The 2012 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in Chicago was interesting for several reasons.  While there were no truly ground breaking data such as in previous years as with, for example:

  • vemurafenib in BRAFV600E melanoma
  • vismodegib in basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • crizotinib in ALK+ lung cancer

there were a lot of encouraging signs for the future.

What made the meeting exciting for me was the sheer number of new compounds emerging from late preclinical to early phase I – clearly companies are looking to restock their pipelines with the threat of major patent cliffs imminent.  Not everyone is chasing new compounds to license in!  The sheer breadth and depth of the pathways targeted by the new compounds took me a little by surprise.

It was clear from discussions with numerous new product people that while pipeline boards are starting to look a little healthier than of late, many of the new compounds are not yet public, but effort are being made to expedite these into the clinic too. Roche and Novartis have dominated the oncology landscape of the last few years but there were signs of resurgence from old stalwarts such as GSK, Lilly, Pfizer, Amgen and Merck. Such fierce competition is good to see.

Posters from Day 2 at AACR...

The small biotechs were also showcasing some interesting data and over the rest of this week, I’ll be highlighting some of the ones I liked and also explaining some of the new targets and biomarkers that caught my eye.

There was, however, a noticeable dearth of handouts and QR codes (for the PDFs) in the poster sessions this year, necessitating more requests for copies by email, hence the delay in covering the highlights post conference.

I’m pleased to say, however, that many presenters generously shared their poster offline and some of these will be discussed later this week.

Here are some of the topics I’m going to be covering in more detail:

  • Update on the PI3K-AKT-mTOR and RAS-RAF-MEK pathways
  • New targeted agents in late preclinical and phase I development
  • Review of the Science Policy session on regulatory and clinical challenges in new drug approvals
  • Update on new approaches in colorectal, prostate and lung cancers

Check back PSB daily this week for more detailed analyses and insights…