Pharma Strategy Blog

Commentary on Pharma & Biotech Oncology / Hematology New Product Development

Posts from the ‘Basic Research’ category

After highlighting the interesting biomarker program associated with AVEO’s tivozanib in renal cell and triple negative breast cancers in the last post, several people wrote in asking about other biomarker programs that have piqued my interest. Regular PSB readers will know that I’m not a fan of catch-all trials at all because the population being studied is too heterogeneous – use of biomarkers can help select which patients are more likely to respond to a particular drug and thus produce greater efficacy.

Another small biotech doing some interesting and compelling biomarker work is Array BioPharma, based in Boulder, Colorado.

Following last weeks post on the phase III clinical data for tivozanib in advanced renal cell cancer (RCC), I thought it would be useful to provide an update on AVEO’s biomarker program.

I’m very excited about the work they are doing in this area and have been following them keenly since they first presented their initial work on myeloid cells in RCC at the AACR diagnostic conference back in 2010.  Since then, other companies have also published work in this field, including Regeneron, who also noticed the presence of myeloid cells in their work with aflibercept in glioblastoma.

Today, I’m heading off to The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) for an afternoon of lectures on pancreatic cancer.  It’s free for members and only $40 for non-members.  Previous 1-day and half day meetings I’ve attended at NYAS have been packed with information and very enjoyable.

The New York Academy of Sciences Pancreatic Cancer Meeting

Why am I interested in this meeting?

Well, aside from Icarus Consultants being one of the media partners for this worthy event, we like to support scientific causes that facilitate cancer research and the communication of the data.


Photo Credit: Sally Church Pharma Strategy BlogFollowing on from my preview of the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, I am now working through updates on some of the hot topics.

I’m delighted to announce The Chemical & Engineering News blog ‘The Haystack’, have published my second guest post on advances in metastatic melanoma.

This is a devastating disease that has seen very few advances over the last decade since the approval of dacarbazine (DTIC) until last year when the FDA approved two new therapies in vemurafenib (Zelboraf) for patients with the BRAFV600E mutation and ipilumumab (Yervoy), an immunotherapy that targets CTLA4.

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Here’s a quick update on the next conference I’m planning to attend in New York next week.  It’s hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) in their downtown New York headquarters by the World Trade Center, which has fantastic panoramic views of uptown Manhattan and Brooklyn from the 40th floor.  More importantantly though, judging by the last few meetings I’ve attended there on cancer metabolism and a most fascinating lecture on ink and tattoos from Carl Zimmer, it should be a very good event and well worth attending.

While thoughts have already turned to the forthcoming ASCO 2012 meeting and today I am off to AUA 2012 in Atlanta, the annual meeting of the American Association Association for Cancer Research (AACR) last month continues to generate insights.

At AACR I was delighted to meet up with Philippe Aftimos, MD, a Clinical Research Fellow at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium.   Philippe is medical coordinator of the Clinical Research Unit and someone who I met through social media (@aftimosp), so it was a pleasure to meet in person.

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This is the second post of a two-part mini series on RNases with Dr Laura Strong of Quintessence Biosciences.  If you haven’t yet read it, check out yesterday’s post, which focused on Ribonucleases (RNase) – what are they and why are they relevant to cancer?

Yesterday, we learned that RNases kill cancer cells by a novel mechanism – destruction of RNA – and may be synergistic with some chemotherapy agents.

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At the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting, I had the pleasure of meeting several interesting young scientists and physicians either in the poster halls or in various scientific sessions.  It seemed a great idea to encourage some of them to contribute some guess blog posts here on PSB.

Laura Strong, Quintessence Biosciences

Dr Laura Strong, Photo courtesy of Pieter Droppert, Biotech Strategy Blog

Amongst the people I met was Dr Laura Strong, President and COO of Quintessence Biosciences.

Yesterday, I mentioned that some of the best bits of this year’s American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting were the numerous gems in the poster sessions.

Reuben Sierra, Ming Tsao's Lab (with permission)

One of the coolest such posters I came across was from Ming Tsao’s group.

Specifically, Rafael Sierra (see photo right) was hosting an excellent piece of research entitled: Overcoming resistance to EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy in non-small cell lung cancer.

This is an area of much needed research and breakthroughs.



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.

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