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OR:BIT takes on ASCO: What to Watch in Oncology in the Year Ahead

15.06.2018

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Lisa Logan, member of HRW’s OR:BIT (Oncology Research:Business Intelligence Team), attended the ASCO conference in the Windy City, Chicago Illinois, at the beginning of this month. Lisa got plenty for exercise in, running back and forth across the sprawling McCormick Place in her quest to bring you all the latest and greatest in Oncology- and what to look for in the year ahead: and there is plenty as you will see…

We were very curious to hear more about LOXO-292, a treatment for NSCLC patients with RET fusions, and the data did not disappoint. Loxo Oncology showed that their drug had an improved ORR of 77% (up from an initial 69% in the abstract) and is a treatment to be considered for those patients with RET-fusions (approximately 2% of NCSLC patients). We were also looking forward to the readout of BB2121, a Celgene and bluebird bio BCMA targeting CAR-T in multiple myeloma. Initial data showed a 100% response rate in small population of heavily pre-treated patients and updated data at the conference still showed an impressive ORR of 94%. While PFS came in just under the expected 12 months (11.8 months in the data), it is still a promising result for a patient population with a median of seven prior treatments!

A standing-room only crowd on Friday afternoon heard some impressive evidence for the synergy between radiation and immune responses. Studies showed the radiation recruits activated killer cells and also upregulated death receptors on the tumor cells, meaning that in combinations with PDL1, radiation can enhance the immune-mediated clearance of residual disease.

The plenary session on Sunday afternoon promised a practice-changing presentation and really lived up to the hype with the results of the TAILORx study showing that patients with an Oncotype DX score in the mid-range to low risk range (between 11 and 25) had a similar rate of cancer-free survival for those on hormone therapy alone as those who had chemo combined with hormone therapy. This result suggesting that while women younger than 50 may still benefit from chemotherapy, doctors can tell up to 70% of patients that they do not need chemotherapy in addition to their hormone therapy, which is incredible news

In the next year, we will be keeping our eye on several things:

  • Grail, the venture backed start-up that is attempting to detect cancer earlier on via a blood test, with initial data showing that they were able to detect cancer in 40% of patients with early stage lung cancer and 90% of late-stage. Will they continue to improve their technology and roll out more widely?
  • PD1 / PDL1 combinations – chemo, radiation, etc. – when do immunotherapies in combination enhance efficacy, and when do they just add to toxicity?
  • NK cells versus T-cells – what kind of impact will CAR-NKs have in the next year?
  • The problem of overtreatment – with combinations with PD1 / PDL1 treatments just starting in development, but a real focus on treating patients with only what is needed – what will be added, what will be removed?

As you can see, Lisa’s sporting efforts more than paid off and provided us with remarkable insights into the complex field of oncology and the exciting developments in this area. Needless to say, we’ll be asking Lisa not to hang up her running shoes just yet, but to keep up her training for next year’s conference!

If you have any questions about ASCO, for a free copy of our ASCO infographic, or want to find out more about OR:BIT, please email us HRW-ORBIT@hrwhealthcare.com.

By Lisa Logan

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