Resilience in purpose and openess in strategic direction are key dual features in the DNA of strong biotechs which succeed in the long run and live to survive the roller coaster ride that is oncology R&D.
Setbacks are to be expected, but what matters more is not that they happen, but the mettle and toughness to deal with them over time.
There is no doubt Clovis Oncology encountered a major setback with the abandonment of rociletinib in lung cancer, while the rise of PARP inhibitors meant they were well placed with the rucaparib development.
Beyond these events, what next?
It’s time to take a bigger picture look at what’s happening with the pipeline and where they might be heading since there could be some surprises in store…
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Finding patterns in the mosaic of cancer biology
In our fifth AACR preview of the annual meeting of 2018, we switch directions from a tumour type to explore a novel and emerging pathway of interest.
Each year we pick a different target to explore; this year it’s the turn of TGFβ.
There’s a lot going on here, both preclinically and clinically that should interest BSB readers who are keen to see new developments in the IO landscape.
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Pancreatic adenocarcinoma is a tough disease to deal with given that it is portends poor clinical outcomes, aggressive tumour biology, and early metastatic spread. Not surprisingly, we have seen very little improvements in terms of clinical outcomes with anti-cancer therapeutics. Surgery (for early stage disease) and intense chemotherapy (for metastatic disease) remain the bedrocks of treatment to this day.
From an immunotherapy perspective, there are also additional barriers and hurdles to overcome including, for example, lack of high mutational load, a complex inhibitory tumour microenvironment, and even a physical barrier in the form of the stromal layer.
Not surprisingly, all of these factors combine to make companies reluctant to rush into clinical trials with immune checkpoint blockade, accepting that we really need to understand the underlying tumour biology better before attempting such an endeavour.
At a recent cancer conference we heard an uplifting talk from a research group who are attempting to tackle this issue and offer some pointers on where there may be some near-term opportunities that are worthy of discussion.
Before we can even consider what delivery system or adjuvant to use, we first have to do the scientific investigations into what’s special about exceptional responders and characterize those.
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