Biotech Strategy Blog

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

Posts tagged ‘T cell exhaustion’

Sitges, Spain

Sitges – It’s time to explore new opportunities for cell therapy at the second edition of the European CAR T cell meeting, jointly organized by the European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) and European Hematology Association (EHA) kicked off today in Sitges, just south of Barcelona.

With over 1,000 attendees, there’s a lot of interest in the cell therapy field and registrations for the meeting sold out quickly.

That’s not surprising given the impressive line-up of the good and great in the field of cell therapy including Stan Riddell, Carl June, Crystal Mackall, Michel Sadelain, and many others.

There’s also a raft of presentations on the challenges and opportunities for cell therapy, along with presentations of new and emerging approaches in the posters.

In this post you’ll find our reactions and commentary on some of the key messages and insights that emerged and takeaways from the first day at the CAR-T meeting.

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A rare dry spell in Barcelona as the clouds roll in bringing yet more rain

Barcelona – While the weather for the World Congress on Lung Cancer (WCLC) has been largely gloomy with plenty of rainy spells, there’s much good news to report on the clinical front.

After yesterday’s review of the Amgen KRAS inhibitor data in G12C mutation positive patients receiving AMG 510, it’s now time to turn our attention to immunotherapy developments with several important trial readouts and in-depth analyses to discuss.

We will be posting a separate summary of the key highlights on targeted therapy, but first let’s consider what we learned on the immunotherapy front, including some of the science behind it all…

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For today’s post, we’ve curated our individual highlights from the tsunami of data that flew thick and fast yesterday between science sessions, oral presentations and poster hall gems.

There were some pleasant surprises in the mix, to be sure, plus the weather brightened up immeasurably!

Yesterday’s lunch time ASH Dash was quieter than usual

Having whittled the number of trial highlights for review and critique down to thirteen key insights and learnings, what made our joint list?

To find out more, check out the post below!

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A warm welcome for Nobel Laureate Dr Jim Allison at CICON18

With all the furore and excitement over Dr Jim Allison’s Nobel prize award that hit CICON18 on Monday, it would be fair to say it was the highlight of the conference for many and it was pretty cool to be there in New York at the time.

Aside from the external news, there were also some intriguing developments to report on the CAR T cell therapy front – you might be forgiven for thinking that there’s not much new to say with two products now approved, but I have to point out that this is a very active area of research and there’s much going on here that is well worth highlighting.

Cell therapy is a bit like the twilight zone in the city that never sleeps – there’s a different vibe and energy about this particular research niche in oncology and quite a few new developments to discuss…

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The audience of Biotech Strategy Blog is a broad “church” (no pun intended) of professionals associated with cancer drug development.

Oxford Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford

Some readers with a research focus noticed I was in Oxford recently then contacted me to ask what scientific papers I was reading and catching up on over the lazy summer months?

This got me thinking as I was vividly reminded of my days as a PhD student at King’s College London, where the department would regularly meet to discuss key papers and recent research.

If your work has a narrow focus, and that applies to industry too, it’s sometimes difficult to see what’s on the horizon or be stimulated by ideas outside your immediate field, yet cross-fertilisation is an important pillar of learning. That’s one of the advantages of BSB, we cover a wide range of topics, at varying levels of complexity.

Welcome to the BSB Journal Club!

In this inaugural post, I’ve selected several recently published cancer immunotherapy papers that caught my attention, also a couple of books for your summer reading.

In case you worry that the science is above your ‘pay grade,’ for each I’ve written a brief summary and highlighted what data means from a commercial/new product development persepctive. You are of course most welcome to agree/disagree and reach your own conclusions… I hope it will stimulate your thinking.

Science often moves forward and develops as people make connections from a broader perspective.  I’m planning on running the “Journal Club” as a monthly ad hoc post to dovetail with the Reader Q&A Mailbag.

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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

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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Miami Beach

Miami Beach Lifeguard Tower

This week I’ve been at an American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conference in Miami on “Targeting the Vulnerabilities of Cancer,” part of their Precision Medicine Series (Twitter #AACRpm16).

What’s interesting about AACR small specialist meetings is as well as listening to high quality talks, they create a relaxed atmosphere for networking and catching up with experts informally. The conference this week was relevant to anyone with an interest in cancer drug discovery.

Dr Bernie FoxAlthough cancer immunotherapy remains the hottest topic in cancer drug development, we shouldn’t forget that there are other therapeutic targets worth exploring; several potential new opportunities were highlighted in Miami.

As readers know we don’t share unpublished data on the blog, so what I’ve done is provide a top-line summary of some of the strategic themes and key take homes I took from several of the presentations.

As an aside, If you haven’t already done so, do listen to the latest episode of the Novel Targets podcast – Of Mice and Men – it features excerpts of interviews recorded at the recent AACR annual meeting in New Orleans. I was surprised by some of what I heard!

For more information on forthcoming AACR meetings and workshops, check out the events calendar on the AACR website.

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Aloha! It will soon be time to pack your Hawaiian shirts for the forthcoming BMT Tandem Meeting in Hawaii (Twitter #BMTTandem16 – what a long hashtag!!)

ASBMT_2016WebBanner_b

Commonly known as “Tandem,” it’s the combined annual meetings of the Center for International Blood & Marrow Transplant Research (CIBMTR) and the American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT).

Hawaii is great location for a meeting in February, and one that I’m sure will generate a lot of envy for those who can’t attend and are stuck in the winter cold and chill. Who said we don’t go the “extra mile” for BSB subs?

One of the presentations I’m looking forward to hearing at Tandem is by Ann Leen, PhD, who is an Associate Professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

Dr Leen will be talking about “Immunotherapy for Lymphoma using T cells Targeting Multiple Tumor-Associated Antigens.

At last December’s ASH annual meeting, Dr Leen presented preliminary data with this novel approach in patients with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). After her ASH presentation, she kindly spoke to BSB.

This post is part of our post-meeting ASH15 coverage, and our ongoing coverage of some of the exciting developments in immuno-oncology.  In case you missed it, do check out the ASH interview with Seattle Genetics CEO Clay Siegall, PhD.

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National Harbor, MD – the 2015 annual meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) kicked off today with a series of workshops, and mini-symposia before the main meeting starts on Friday.

It is currently glorious weather for Maryland in November, almost too nice to be indoors, which probably means it’s going to be a cold winter for those who live up North!

National Harbor MD

Of note this afternoon/evening at SITC 2015 was an International Symposium on Cancer Immunotherapy entitled “Today’s Innovators, Tomorrow’s Leaders.”

Organized in collaboration with the World Immunotherapy Council (WIC), the symposium showcased up and coming researchers, each of whom had an expenses paid trip to SITC to present their work before an audience that included many of the “great and good” in cancer immunotherapy.  It was useful learn from the questions being asked from the floor too, further adding to the value of the session.

Dr Bernard Fox SITC 2015

@BernardAFox introduces the International Cancer Symposium and acknowledges the vision behind it.

Dr Bernard A Fox (@BernardAFox), a past President of SITC, in his introduction acknowledged the vision behind it, and in particular, the contribution of Dr Nora Disis (@DrNDisis). Those of you who listen to Novel Targets Podcast heard her in the most recent show.

SITC WIC International SymposiumToday’s daily highlights post offers a few of my “take homes” from this afternoon. It doesn’t discuss unpublished data but some of the presenters went into more detail about posters they are presenting later this week which was interesting.

The symposium was highly enjoyable and well worth attending. Hopefully, it will be repeated at next year’s SITC annual meeting.

Tomorrow here in National Harbor, I’m looking forward to the workshop on new perspective for target antigens in the changing immunotherapy landscape. That will be the subject of tomorrow’s daily digest. Stay tuned!

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