Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘Pancreatic Cancer’

Part of the next wave of early immuno-oncology agents are focused on addressing the tumour microenvironment and inhibitory factors that dampen down immune responses.

As we look at all the options available, there are a few obvious ones such as physical barriers and inhibitory cytokines or chemokines, but beyond that are a vast array of other potential targets we can aim at therapeutically.

We have covered quite a few of these already, but here’s a new one to add to the list.

One particular advantage is that because it is early in development, few competitors have cottoned on to the concept yet. First mover advantage can have quite a few benefits, after all.

Here’s an important question to consider in terms of oncology R&D – would you rather explore a blue ocean strategy or follow the lemmings off the cliff and be 14th to market in a highly competitive red ocean?

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Attention on small molecule inhibitors – after being in the doldrums for a while – seem to be making a comeback over the last year with much attention focused on a few companies developing new selective agents in specialised niches.

Time for a KRAS spring clean!

One such space is KRAS inhibition. Not just in terms of direct or indirect inhibition, but also with regards to tackling acquired resistance mechanisms such as SHP2.  While there has been quite the frenzy over what Amgen, Mirati, Revolution Medicine and a few others are all doing, other companies are quietly getting on with the business of producing some nice work and will soon be ready for the off.

In our latest review we explore some of the factors involved, which companies will need to be concerned about going forward, especially in the context of future combination strategies.

In solid tumours, with targeted therapies the winners are not always the ones who reached the market first, but rather the crafty ones who optimise the combination strategies and become ingrained in protocols across multiple situations.

Here we look at one of the hidden gems in the KRAS space and explore what it does, why it’s important and how it might fit in.  We also include a company interview with a scientist who gets the broader implications…

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Are GI cancers still marooned on an island or are they catching up with other solid tumours in terms of progress?

San Francisco – In the past, whenever I posted updates on any of the GI cancers they attracted noticeably less attention than other solid tumours and rightly so, especially given the lack of new agents and compelling data. If the highlight of a meeting is debating the merits of left versus right side tumour responses or bolus versus infusional administration then the plot has kind of been lost in the morass of abstracts available.

This year, however, things are looking up with a tidy group of studies that have what I call ‘interestingness’ – in other words, results that will tempt us to look deeper rather than merely skim in the hope of something new and shiny.

This weekend in San Francisco saw some highlights (and also lowlights) in the form of new clinical data emerging from the 2020 ASCO GI conference. That means we’re due a review so let’s rock ’n roll though the important studies to see what stands out from the crowd…

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A wet gloomy day in San Francisco was brightened up by some small biotech talks

San Francisco – The other day I mentioned that we could expect some cross pollination across several recent conferences and this latest post on Kura Oncology is one such example of that genre.

We’ve been following their story longitudinally for a while now and with a lot suddenly going on, 2020 could well turn out to be an crucial year for the company.

There is no doubt they have been pursuing a very focused precision medicine approach with tipifarnib and executing nicely on that strategy so far, but as more indications and additional pipeline agents move into the clinic do the same principles still apply?

To find out, we interviewed a couple of their senior executives and discussed both current progress as well as where they are headed…

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National Harbor, MD

With the abstract drop from the 2019 Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) meeting now available, what can we learn from some of the research slated for formal oral presentation this year?

Here in part one (posters will be reviewed tomorrow) we take a look at a mix of preclinical and early clinical studies that grabbed our initial interest from the oral presentations – they include the good, bad, and intriguing – to see exactly what can be learned from this year’s mix of abstracts?

The short answer is quite a lot.

Every year the what to watch out for preview is a popular one.  This year there are some surprises in store as well as some particularly important findings that BSB readers may well be keen to find out more about ahead of the conference later this week in order to maximise their thinking and avoid the inevitable brain-fry and fatigue that sets in on Saturday afternoon…

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Chicago – here we are with highlights and insights from Day 4 of #ASCO19 and time is running down on this meeting with just half a day to go – whew!

One of the highlights of medical and scientific meetings we go to is meeting early career researchers, especially those who are doing translational research.

On Monday at ASCO19 we particularly enjoyed talking with Dr Wungi Park (@W_Park_MD) from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center who presented a poster on homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) as a biomarker in pancreatic cancer (abstract 4132).

We look forward to hearing more from him and colleagues as data is generated from the clinical trial they plan to start later in this year to investigate this further. Translational research in action!

What were some of our other highlights of Manic Monday at ASCO19? We’ve shared a few in the post below for BSB subs.

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We’re continuing our series following the development of novel cutting edge strategies targeting gamma delta (𝞬𝝳) T cells, with a look at the two approaches Puretech Health are pursuing based on the research of Dr George Miller (NYU Langone).

Data was presented at #AACR19 for a first-in-class immunotherapy targeting immune-suppressive delta 1 containing 𝞬𝝳 T cells and one targeting Galectin–9.

Drs Panchenko and Filipovic at their AACR19 poster

We recently spoke with Dr Aleksandra Filipovic, therapeutic lead for oncology at Puretech Health, she’s pictured right with Dr Tatyana Panchenko from NYU Langone at their AACR poster.

Dr Filiopovic told BSB that Puretech are looking for the next big IO breakthrough:

“We looked at this landscape and the massive amount of trials going on. We said ok, if we’re going to go into the space of immuno-oncology, what is it that we need to do differently in order to, upfront, try and ensure that we’re going after targets which could be the next PD–1. Our thinking went along the lines that we would really need to identify those next checkpoints, those next foundational modulators of the immune system.”

This is the first of two interviews from #AACR19 on novel strategies to target 𝞬𝝳 T cells, an emerging area that companies are looking at with both antibody and adoptive cellular therapy approaches. Do check out our previous mini-series if you missed it.

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Packed sessions at AACR19

Atlanta – We’ve had a few requests to discuss the Apexigen anti-CD40 data presented by Dr Robert Vonderheide (Penn) presented at AACR19 on Sunday.

That’s a request we happy to oblige.

There seems to be quite a difference in reactions between researchers and investors on this issue, so it’s a nice opportunity to put the data in appropriate context.

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MD Anderson Cancer Center

Houston, Texas – Advanced pancreatic cancer is a very tough disease to treat, so it is not surprising that by 2030 it will be the No. 2 cancer killer in the United States, according to one of the speakers at the recent 1st Annual Symposium on Pancreatic Cancer held at the MD Anderson Cancer Center earlier this week.

There’s also high unmet medical need for new effective therapies for pancreatic cancer, which is why events that promote collaboration and cross-fertilization among leading experts are important.

I found out about the event from Twitter thanks to tweets by Dr Anirban Maitra (@aiims1742) who shares a lot of information. Do follow him if you don’t already.

Thank you to everyone at MD Anderson for putting on a panel of excellent speakers. The meeting was well worth attending and I hope it will become an annual event.

In this post I’ve captured some of the key take-homes that I took from the symposium.

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MD Anderson, Houston

Houston, Texas – At the First Annual Symposium on Pancreatic Cancer organized by Ronald DePinho MD and colleagues at the MD Anderson Cancer Center on Monday, one of the presentations that caught my attention was on exosomes.

Raghu Kalluri MD PhD (@KalluriLab) gave an excellent talk on, Exploiting the Biology of Exosomes for Diagnosis and Therapy of Pancreatic Cancer.”

What were some of the key take homes from his presentation?

He kindly spoke to BSB in Houston and talked about the direction he is going in this rapidly evolving field of research.

Here’s a short snippet from the interview where he talks about one aspect of this approach and how it might be useful (the others are covered in more detail below):

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