Our ASCO 2014 conference coverage continues with more gems from the poster sessions; it’s where we believe you find the promising gems that offer hints of future promise (or not) as the case maybe.

ASCO 2014 General Poster HallSometimes a failure with one agent can help another company design a more optimal trial for their own new product in development, thus moving the field on. Other times, a surprising result can emerge that teaches us something new about the science and increasing our body of knowledge about pathways or biomarkers.

The other thing to understand about phase I trials is that they are generally conducted in the salvage situation where patients are refractory to most current treatments.  The disease burden is high and the patients much sicker than when they were newly diagnosed. What companies are looking for is to characterise the side effect and PK profiles while looking for possible hints of where the agent might be efficacious.  Given that most cancer therapies are given in combination, it’s very rare to see a home run in phase I, especially in solid tumours.

Here are a triplet of interesting posters from small companies looking at moving the needle in solid tumours with early phase I studies:

Companies mentioned: Nucana, OncoMed, Celldex
Agents mentioned: Acelarin, OMP–59R5, varlilumab

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