Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘Soft Tissue Sarcoma’

There are multiple players in the Magic Roundabout, but are some more important than others and will different culprits turn out to have hidden meanings? You may never see Ermintrude in the same way again 😉

Without a doubt, there are multiple potential ways we can go about improving responses to cancer immunotherapy, not just in terms of targets, combination approaches, different modalities etc, but also by manipulating the tumour microenvironment or thinking about directing different immune cells in positive ways.

In our latest review, we look at one area where emerging work appears to bearing fruit as multiple groups suddenly get one of those, a-ha! moments.

It’s not just happening in one tumour type either, nor is it limited to one type of therapy or modality, which makes it all the more intriguing to think about.

We heard about one example of this mechanism last year and now it’s time to explore things in more detail. This also means companies quick on the uptake could well take advantage ahead of their competitors.

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Is the dragon roaring back?

It’s a while since we last looked at new developments in a rare group of cancers called sarcoma so this is a good time to stake stock and explore the positive and negative trial results, as well as look at some of the emerging targets that are being investigated.

Not all of them will likely pan out given the nature of the disease, but some might turn out to be hidden gems.

We’ve had a few negative trial readouts in sarcomas and plenty of new trials with a variety of agents in early development – is the dragon roaring back or whimpering?

Aside from our top 10 review, we also have a thought leader interview to share with commentary from a sarcoma specialist…

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Yesterday, we had a sarcoma expert in the spotlight looking at the new developments from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

In part two of our sarcoma mini-series, we have another interview for our readers, this time from the perspective of the CEO, Dr Carlos Paya. They had some interesting data in Chicago so what was their reaction to it and where are they going next?

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Sarcomas are a heterogeneous type of cancer that develop from certain tissues like bone or soft tissues such fat, muscle, nerves, fibrous tissues, blood vessels, or deep skin tissues.

Over the last two years, much has happened in this space so it’s an excellent time to revisit the niche and learn more about what experts think of the latest data that is emerging here.

We put a sarcoma expert in the spotlight and learned what their perspectives are on some of the emerging data in this niche as well as which ones offer hints of promise.

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In the first of our 2017 AACR annual meeting previews, we are taking a look at a particular theme that we expect to hear much more about over the coming months.

Washington DC cherry blossoms

In order to make something better than what it is, we first need to step back and understand the various factors that underpin it. To do otherwise is akin to the proverbial throwing of mud at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Trying things out just because they seem like a good idea or that’s all you have in your pipeline doesn’t really inspire the greatest of confidence in a clinical trial’s success.

This is also where several factors including tumour biology, cancer genomics, biomarkers, and acquired resistance can intersect to produce some intriguing results.

Please note that our Conference Preview series are never random.  When looking at the abstracts as a whole, we try to organise them around a particular scientific theme or a tumour type. The idea here is that it makes it much easier for our readers to see and grasp emerging concepts and trends. It’s also a deeper dive into the whys; things happen for a reason – why is that?  What can we learn from the process?

These are also not random selections from say, publicly traded or private companies, big or small caps.

It does take more time to roll thematic articles out, but the advantage is that over the course of the next two weeks readers will be better equipped to get a grip on the meeting ahead of the event.

Indeed, a couple of subscribers even told us last year they learned more from our in-depth previews than they did from the meeting itself because it’s easy to miss the important things or become ‘bigly overwhelmed’ as one bio fund manager explained to me.

Strategically, we’ve taken one specific theme today and explored what we can expect based on what we have learned to date, and looked at how that will potentially impact a few things going forward.

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After several years in the wastelands of cancer research due to lack of significant results and only one product on the market, therapeutic cancer vaccines now look to be back in fashion and are seeing a revival with their inclusion in clinical trials.

One of the reasons behind the resurgence of interest is the advent of checkpoints, and the potential of vaccines in the immuno-oncology space to boost or enhance the immune response.

Their use could not only increase the response to checkpoint inhibitors in people who might otherwise not respond, but in those who obtain some initial response such as a partial response, they could also potentially help achieve a more durable long-term response.

As we continue to ride the wave of cancer immunotherapy on BSB, the cancer vaccine field is suddenly an exciting area to watch.

I’ve long been known as a cancer vaccine sceptic, although recently several approaches in this niche have begun to look rather promising indeed.  Here, we highlight and discuss one such company in the field, including an interview with the CEO.

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Sarcoma is something we call one disease but actually represents 50-70 different histologies, which poses challenges for drug development.  Not only do you have to identify what’s the unique target, but it’s hard to accrue patients into trials, when a major center may only see a few of each sub-type.

Soft tissue sarcoma is an area of unmet medical need, and one I have been interested in since launching Gleevec in GIST (way back when) when I was fortunate to get to know many of the leading sarcoma experts.

Dr George Demetri

George D. Demetri, MD. Photo Credit: DFCI

One of these is Dr George Demetri, who is Director, Center for Sarcoma and Bone Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

At the recent European Cancer Congress in Vienna, I had the privilege to talk with Dr Demetri about some of the latest research in soft tissue sarcoma.

We spoke about cancer immunotherapy, new small molecules and monoclonal antibodies, and the potential of targeting the epigenetic machinery.

A lot of what Dr Demetri is doing is currently “under the radar” and while he didn’t give any secrets away, he did give some sense of where some breakthroughs may occur in the not too distant future.  He also talked about how sarcomas with a specific target can be used for proof of concept clinical trials of novel agents.

Given the pressure that many companies are under to speed up their path to market strategies, accelerated approval in a rare tumour subset is one approach that can be considered.

It’s an exciting time in the field with the potential for several agents in development to move the needle and make a difference. I hope you enjoy this post, it was a real pleasure to talk with Dr Demetri again.

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