Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

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…

18 Responses to “Highlights of AACR 2012 – Part 1”

    • maverickny

      They are, Mary, and what’s even better is that many of them were targeted agents much like Glivec and Herceptin are, rather than nasty chemotherapy with its horrid side effects!  That was most reassuring to see.

  1. Anita

    Interesting post Sally. As Mary said, sounds like very good developments! Will be interesting to see how it grows.

    • maverickny

      You’ll be hearing more in the mainstream news about some of these compounds in a few years, Anita – watch this space!

    • maverickny

      So true, so true, Scott… And I only saw you once briefly on arrival the whole meeting, that’s most unusual but does speak to how busy we both were!

  2. Suzan St Maur

    That’s very encouraging, Sally, and heartening for us cancer survivors to know that our numbers are growing if not exponentially, at least substantially. And that is thanks largely to people like you and your colleagues who work so hard to find cures and long term cancer treatments. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • maverickny

      On before of the cancer research community, Suze, thank you.  I know that many people I spoke to at the meeting find it very rewarding when the science and development come together to really make a difference to cancer patients lives – that’s what we all work towards every day. 

  3. Sarah Arrow

    Thanks for sharing this update with us Sally, to echo what the others above have said – it looks like good stuff coming though in your healthcare sector.

    • maverickny

      I hope so, Sarah although there is a potentially fairly large gap between the patent expiries and the next big glut of good drugs though.

  4. Steve Ouellette

    Thanks for all of your hard work, Sally.  I was wondering if you might be able to showcase any preclinical, multi-targeted kinase inhibitors that you saw at the conference.  It would also be interesting to see any companion diagnostics that were highlighted.  I think these approaches are going to revolutionize personalized treatments for cancer patients, and don’t want to miss any of the up and comers.  Thanks again!

  5. Steve Ouellette

    Thanks for all of your hard work, Sally.  I was wondering if you might be able to showcase any preclinical, multi-targeted kinase inhibitors that you saw at the conference.  It would also be interesting to see any companion diagnostics that were highlighted.  I think these approaches are going to revolutionize personalized treatments for cancer patients, and don’t want to miss any of the up and comers.  Thanks again!

    • maverickny

      Hi Steve, I’ll certainly take a look to see what new multi-kinase inhibitors are out there in preclinical but it was noticeable that many were fairly narrow and pathway specific.  Part of this may be to develop greater specificity and lower off-kinase toxicities that may enable them to be combined more easily with other targeted agents.

  6. Elaine

    It’s good to know there are more competitiors coming into the market, hopefully this will expedite development across a broad spectrum of treatments. From a personal perspective, I’ll be looking out for your information on the lung cancers where there has long been a dearth of development in the UK particularly in treatments for the causes other than through smoking.

    • maverickny

      That’s interesting to know, Elaine… here in the US the most recent advances in lung cancer have all been for those types not associated with smoking such as Tarceva and Xalkori.  We are also starting to learn what the potential causes of resistance to such treatments are, which means that new therapeutic strategies will evolve as a direct result of the knowledge.

  7. Lynn Tulip

    As the others say, great work Sally in passing the message on.  Noticed with interest the QR code comment and the need for more emails after the event – that can be frustrating can’t it?

    • maverickny

      Yeah, that can be very frustrating Lynn.  I love posters with QR codes on them, since you can email the PDF to yourself and study it later – so much easier!

  8. Linda

    Hi Sally: The “many of them were targeted agents” caught my eye.  They must be exciting developments with hugely positive potential for cancer patients?

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