Immunotherapy at ASCO. What Do We Want to Hear?

For those who ask whether immunotherapy will have a dominant presence at ASCO, we confirm that yes; immunotherapy therapeutics will have a presence and a lot of audience, especially oncologists. There is big reason for oncologists’ interest in the subject. Their patients who have exhausted all standard of care treatments and would usually go home to die, did not lose hope this time. Instead, many embarked on investigational immunotherapy clinical trials. The two categories that dominate immunotherapy are immune checkpoint protein inhibitors and CAR T cell therapeutics. Both will be presented and we will be all ears to hear.

The fact is that some miracle-like cancer shrinking and some cures have occurred with the immunotherapy approaches, which could not be underestimated. There were encouraging results that can only be considered, leading to attempts of improvements through combination therapy and through finding ways for circumventing adverse effects mostly on the CAR T cells approach. So, it is really irrelevant for anybody to talk about negatives such as adverse effects and failures to treat solid tumors. Waiting and listening first to the presenters telling about results and about their efforts in improving immunotherapy approaches is what analysts should be doing prior to the meeting.

We certainly want to hear from Juno (JUNO); Kite (KITE); Bellicum (BLCM) and others. We will also want to hear from Celldex (CLDX) and Agenus (AGEN) regarding their immunotherapy for glioblastoma, especially the interesting finding of Agenus that the treated tumors expressed PD-L1, which suppresses the immune system’s reaction against the cancer cells. This phenomenon was observed during the trials with Prophage with results demonstrating that the least expressed PD-L1 faired better than the most expressed PD-L1. We are anxious to hear about how Agenus will take advantage of this finding to improve its glioblastoma treatment, which already looks effective.

A New Comer


Among the presenter Adaptimmune (ADAP), which has just landed in the NASDAQ. Indeed, this firm has a task to do at ASCO on its immunotherapy program based on its T-cell receptor platform. Since its establishment as a private company in 2008, Adaptimmune developed its immunotherapy program that utilizes the body’s T-cell to target and hopefully destroy cancer cells using engineered, increased affinity T-cell receptors (TCRs) to strengthen patients’ T-cell responses.

Adaptimmune’s lead program, which will be the subject of presentation, is an affinity enhanced TCR drug NY-ESO TCR, which targets NY-ESO cancer antigen. The product has demonstrated signs of efficacy and tolerability in Phase 1/2 trials in solid tumors and in hematologic cancer types.

In June 2014, Adaptimmune announced that it had entered into a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement with GlaxoSmithKline for the development and commercialization of the NY-ESO TCR program.

For more information:

In the NEWS

Adaptimmune Therapeutics announced it will present data on its lead clinical program; an affinity enhanced T-cell receptor (TCR) therapeutic targeting the NY-ESO-1 cancer antigen at the 2015 Annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Meeting. These data emanate from myeloma, synovial sarcoma and ovarian cancer patients who have been treated with the approach.

The ASCO meeting will take place at the McCormick Place exhibition center in Chicago, Illinois on May 29 through June 2, 2015.

Saturday May 30, 2015 Poster Presentation Session title: Developmental Therapeutics and Translational Research Abstract number: TPS3102 Presenter: Melinda S. Merchant, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Director, Pediatric Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research of the National Cancer Institute Title: “Genetically engineered NY-ESO-1 specific T cells in HLA-A201+ patients with advanced cancers” Presentation Time: 8:00am-11:30am Location: S Hall A

NY-ESO TCR therapeutic candidate is a novel cancer immunotherapy that has been engineered to target and destroy cancer cells by strengthening a patient’s natural T-cell response. Adaptimmune’s goal is to harness the power of the T-cell and, through its NY-ESO TCR therapeutic candidate, significantly impact cancer treatment and clinical outcomes of patients with cancers, includingsynovial sarcoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma, ovarian cancer and esophageal cancer.

We are anxious to hear it all at ASCO.

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