Yesterday, we started the first of a multi-part mini series on STING agonism with a quick look at the broad landscape and some of the competitors in this space, which has definitely grown over the last four years since we first wrote about the STING/cGAS pathway.
In the latest part of the STING series, we talk to a small, privately held biotech who are developing a slightly different approach to the first generation agonists currently in early phase clinical trials.
One goal that many are looking at with STING agonism is to try and take less inflamed tumours and turn them into inflamed ones (or cold to hot in layman’s parlance).
We also need strategies for adding those middling tumours that are neither purely inflamed nor non-inflamed i.e. immune excluded and may have other factors influencing their tumour microenvironment, which is something else we also discuss in the interview.
No one would ever describe the trials and tribulations of oncology R&D as a cakewalk, there are certainly plenty of challenges to address on the discovery, preclinical, and even clinical front before we even get to consider the financial need to raise money, pharma collaborations and (hopefully), eventual commercialisation post approval. It can be a wild roller coaster ride at the best of times.
We have an agnostic approach to cancer drug development and cover small and large companies in equal measure.
So what can we learn from the first of the next generation STING agonist companies?
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New Orleans – one of the presentations of note at Immunology 2015 (the annual meeting of the American Association of Immunologists) was by Thomas J. Gajewski MD, PhD from the University of Chicago. His presentation on “Innate immune sensing of cancer via the STING pathway” was well worth the trip to New Orleans.
Readers may recall the post we wrote in March on “What is STING and why does it matter in cancer immunotherapy?” It followed the news that Novartis were collaborating with Aduro Biotech (NASDAQ: ADRO) on agonists that activate the STING (Stimulator of Interferon Genes) signaling pathway in immune cells.
Dr Gajewski (pictured below) kindly spoke to BSB after his presentation at Immunology 2015.
Excerpts from the interview will feature on Episode 2 of the Novel Targets podcast (@TargetsPodcast). Subscribers can read more from the interview below.
You should read and/or buy access to this post if you don’t know the answers to the following:
- What role does the tumor microenvironment play in response to cancer immunotherapy?
- How could the tumor microenvironment be a biomarker of response to checkpoint inhibitors?
- Why target the STING pathway?
- Reasons Novartis are collaborating with Aduro Biotech?
- How may a STING agonist be brought to the clinic?
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