One of our popular series from conferences is Gems from the Poster Halls, where we take a look at some of the studies or research data that caught our attention and explain how they may have future significance. In the past, posters have lead to phase 2 or 3 trial designs and subsequent approval. Others have sadly missed signals in small studies that could have prevented an expensive phase 3 faiure. Hence, it is often important to pay attention to posters.
The ESMO16 Poster Hall Maze
Posters can also give early warning for what’s developing in pipelines. The BTK inhibitor, ibrutinib, was originally codenamed CRA–032765 (at Celera) and later PCI–32765 (at Pharmacyclics), for example, while the PI3K-delta inhibitor, idelalisib started life as CAL–101 (at Calistoga). We previously followed the progress of these compounds while they were in preclinical and phase 1 and documented progress long before they became active drugs in a race to market in CLL.
My favourite codename is always going to be STI–571 (imatinib). We would start planning ASCO and ASH activities every January and September, so companies should be well in hand in their preparations for ASH and SABCS by now. There’s a tremendous amount of work involved behind the scenes in order to have a great event, and I’m not talking about the fripperies like exhibits and light boxes here.
Last year at ECCO, StemCentRx burst on the scene and were subsequently acquired at a significant premium by AbbVie, taking quite a few people by surprise.
So what can we learn about the data from ESMO this year? What new trends are emerging this time around?
Here, we take a fresh look at FOUR interesting new developments from small and large pharma/biotech companies alike in Part 2 of the Gems series. In the first one [Link], we interviewed an expert and discussed their approach to biomarkers in early small studies to help them better design larger follow-on trials more effectively.
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Like the Battle of Britain, the cancer immunotherapy landscape is a dynamic one where tactical decisions can make the difference between “winning” and “losing.”
As Bristol Myers recently found out in first-line NSCLC, if you choose the wrong trial design or adopt an overly-aggressive strategy, you can end up losing badly (see post: Detailed thoughts on BMS CheckMate 026 1L trial in NSCLC)
A recent trip to the operations bunker at former RAF Uxbridge, from where the fighters of 11 Group were directed, shows how close we came to losing the Battle of Britain. Had the German Luftwaffe continued to target RAF airfields instead of diverting their efforts on London, the outcome of the war is likely to have been quite different.
History provides a valuable lesson that strategy and tactics can and do matter; in R&D the targets you choose and how effectively you execute on a plan can make a big difference to outcome.
Pictured: the RAF 11 Group Operations plot as it looked on September 15, 1940.
In Part 2 of the BSB interview with PsiOxus Therapeutics CEO Dr John Beadle, we discuss corporate strategy, and some of the challenges faced by an emerging Biotech company, many of which are likely to be shared by other small companies in the field.
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To be successful as a cancer immunotherapy company, you not only have to be science driven (that’s a given) and offer an approach that could make a difference, you also need a vision and the ability to execute ahead of competitors in a fast moving and competitive landscape.
Dr John Beadle
We’re continuing our series on emerging cancer immunotherapy companies with an in-depth look at PsiOxus, and the vision of CEO Dr John Beadle (pictured right) for it to be a world-leading immuno-oncolytic virus company.
PsiOxus is based just outside of Oxford – it’s part of the so-called “golden triangle,” the area between London, Oxford and Cambridge in the South of England that is a driver of UK science and innovation.
The company is located in a nondescript business park 45 minutes by train from Paddington to Didcot Parkway, followed by a taxi or bus ride. You have to want to make the trip from London!
Dr Beadle kindly spoke to BSB about the competitive advantage the PsiOxus oncolytic virus platform offers, their path-to-market strategy and how he sees the company developing in the future.
With clinical data due in 2017, PsiOxus is a cancer immunotherapy company to watch out for.
Part 1 of the interview focuses on the scientific platform and cancer new products in development that are driving the company forward.
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Thankfully, the dog days of summer means that the Pharmaland conference season takes a much needed break and the intense news cycle tends to calm down somewhat (well a little, depending on your perspective). This gives us some breathing space to conduct and write up some CEO interviews, as well as publish in-depth thought pieces and op-eds on up and coming areas of interest in the broader cancer research field.
In last week’s surprisingly popular mini-series on neoantigens, we explored the concept in a three-part series comprising a primer on the topic, plus helpful insights from a thought leader in the field and a CEO/investor at an example company.
Here we explore the broader landscape beyond T-VEC through a primer, plus a fascinating two-part interview with a CEO in this space.
To begin with, we start off with a primer to get BSB readers on the same page.
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William Coley first used live bacteria as an immune stimulant to treat cancer way back in 1893. Since then, however, progress with innate immunotherapy has been surprisingly very slow.
Queen Mary Rose Garden, Regents Park, Summer 2015
Indeed, to date only one therapeutic cancer vaccine has actually been approved by the FDA (Sipuleucel-T, Provenge, Dendreon), one oncolytic virus was approved in China back in 2006 (H101, a direct derivative of the E1B55k-deleted Onyx-015 that had modest activity at best) and another could soon be approved by the FDA later this year (T-VEC, Amgen).
In today’s review, we take a look at the oncolytic viral space and explore the issues, challenges and companies involved. Is this all set to be a bed of roses, or is a thorny future predicted?
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