Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘SITC 2017’

Sometimes initial phase 1/1b readouts at cancer conferences produce quite different reactions from a live and remote audience while at other meetings, the Developmental Therapeutics talks produce little or no interest at all. It’s often hard to guage which way they will go.

At SITC this weekend, several talks generated some contentious, and at times quite heated, debate and intense interest.

One of these was an oral presentation by Dr Zev Wainberg on the first-in-man data with the anti-CSF1R and anti-PD1 inhibitors, cabiralizumab and nivolumab, from Five Prime and BMS respectively, in an advanced pancreatic cohort.

Dr Zev Wainberg at SITC 2017

There was a surprising amount of confusion surrounding the initial results and other issues last week, with Five Prime’s stock dropping before we’d even got to Dr Wainberg’s talk.

What became increasingly obvious over the weekend was a clear difference in investors perceptions versus what the scientific community actually thought.

Here we take a look at the data and explain what to watch out for and why…

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SITC 2017

Treatment with checkpoint blockade has undoubtedly improved the lives of some people with advanced cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer, however the number who do achieve complete remission with single agent therapy is low (typically <20%).

In addition, not all people will respond up front while others achieve an objective response then relapse as acquired resistance or immune escape hits.

One challenge facing the field is identifying these mechanisms of resistance and finding the optimal combination approaches that lead to improved outcomes.

This weekend at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) annual meeting, there were quite a few interesting new combination developments with early data.

Here, we take a look at one such combination to explore the data, the biomarker research that is ongoing and also some of the challenges associated with finding needles in the proverbial haystack…

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SITC 2017 at the Gaylord Hotel, MD

It’s that time of year already and it has come around so fast in 2017… yes it’s the annual meeting for the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (aka SITC).

This year there are several eagerly anticipated presentations, one of which is Juno’s ill-fated ROCKET trial in adult ALL using their JCAR015 CAR T cell therapy.

While Novartis and Kite both successfully made it to market recently in pediatric ALL and aggressive lumphomas, respectively, Juno were left languishing in a poor third place after a series of lethal cerebral oedemas scuppered the program.  In the meantime, Novartis are relentless chasing Kite with their JULIET trial in DLBCL and could well have the third CAR T cell therapy indication.

Finally, we heard for the first time today what the company learned from the recent analysis of the deaths, which they shared with the field this morning.  BSB was on the spot to hear more about what the CMO, Dr Mark Gilbert had to say and we also have some thought leader sentiments on their perspective of the findings.

That’s not all though, as there was also new data on checkpoint blockade and other immunotherapies that are in early development as well as developments on the biomarker front.

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One of the things that I’ve heard repeatedly over the last year is that many researchers want a better biomarker of response for checkpoint therapies than PD-L1 expression by IHC.

National Harbor

Indeed, we could expand that statement more broadly to say that there’s a real need for a better predictive biomarker of response to any immunotherapy, since there are more approaches out there now and not just checkpoint blockade. Plus combinations are evolving, complicating things further.

Fair enough, but what’s happening in this space?  Anything, Bueller?

We’ve covered a few emerging ideas in the past, although they were based on retrospective analysis – usually with a small N – and remain to be validated in prospective clinical trials.

There’s quite a few groups now much more active in research in this space, from academia to industry.  This is a good time to take stock and look at some of the emerging technologies that might be making a splash later if the data pans out.

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Last week we reviewed some of the promising oral late breaking abstracts and highlighted what to watch out for (W2W4) from our key selections.

National Harbor, DC

This week, it’s the turn of the poster late breakers to be in the spotlight.

There are several approaches worthy of highlighting, but as always, there are also some potential pitfalls for readers to be aware of.

After all, life in the oncology R&D fast lane is as never easy or predictable as the changing of the seasons.

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