Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘SITC18’

Cancer cells Source: Dr. Cecil Fox, NCI

As part of our ongoing mini-series on small emerging companies to watch out for, we have two quite different biotechs focusing on different aspects of immunotherapy on deck today.

We look at what we know, what we recently learned and where things are likely headed in the near to medium term future.

As always, there’s good and bad news along the way, so what are the pitfalls and what’s to be cheerful or encouraged about?

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We’ve been eagerly following the story of the microbiome and how it affects the response of people undergoing an allogeneic transplant or cancer immunotherapy since Marcel van den Brink’s original presentation at SITC in 2014, followed by Tom Gajewski the following year.

Since then, it has been fascinating to watch how the commensal microbiota has evolved into a niche unto itself. It’s one thing to report differences academically, but clinically we want to know if the information gleaned can help impact patient care. van den Brink’s group demonstrated that both GvHD and antibiotics could influence outcomes in their patients undergoing a stem cell transplant for hematologic malignancies and limiting use of ‘bad antiobiotics’ could change the course of outcomes.

A packed Microbiome session at SITC 2018

The Chicago angle was quite different. They noticed differences in the microbiota of their lab mice could impact the responses of their experiments with immunotherapy. Could that also impact patients? The answer was yes and off they went on a journey probably none of them anticipated to look at responders and non-responders in their melanoma cohort.

That then begs the question of whether the microbiota can be influenced and the outcome changed?

Several other groups of relevance in this space are the Laurence Zitvogel and Guido Kroemer labs in Paris, as well as Jennifer Wargo’s lab at MD Anderson in Houston.

We continue following the microbiome story to learn where we are and where we are going…

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DC sculpture

Up on deck today we have some highlights from my notes from SITC18 session on Immune Escape: Current Understanding of Mechanisms and Advances in Therapeutics Approaches held on November 7th, 2018.

This is a topic that I find particularly fascinating, not least because it has distinct parallels with what we have learned from chemotherapy and targeted therapies over the last couple of decades, so why not immunotherapy too?

Semantically, I’m not hung up on terminology either – call it resistance or immune escape, the negative effect on therapy is what matters and even some of the mechanisms are similar, such as the development of JAK mutations, for example.

The important point there was plenty to think about and consider in terms of what the data tell us from the patient tumour analyses and where they might direct us in terms of future research as well as novel combination approaches.

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SITC18 is in Washington DC

The SITC abstract titles have now dropped on the very same day as the ASH abstracts (handy timing for those who revel in data tsunamis!) although the actual details of the abstracts won’t be available until Nov 6th.

In this latest conference Preview, we take at look at the titles and have selected some for commentary based on what we know, and in some cases, what we might expect.

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