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BioPharm Executive: Everything You Wanted to Know About ASCO (But Were Afraid to ASCO)


5/23/2011 4:42:37 PM

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Everything You Wanted to Know About ASCO

We're heading into the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which will be held June 3-7 in Chicago. The most exciting thing about the meeting will vary by your own personal interests, but there are some very helpful summaries out there that can give you a head start on digging through an avalanche of data. (Check out this broad overview from Kantar Health, this focus on melanoma from cancernetwork.com, this preview on RNAi therapeutics, and this one on leukemia drugs from MD Becker Partners.

ASCO's annual meeting covers a huge range of research, but it's still tempting to pick an annual theme (the official one, by the way, is "Patients, Pathways, Progress"). Certainly one focal point is metastatic melanoma--a deadly skin cancer that has had few useful treatment options until recently. ASCO should include presentations on the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug Yervoy, which was approved in March, and the Roche drug vemurafenib (originally developed by Plexxikon), which was just this month submitted for U.S. approval, as well as two earlier-stage GlaxoSmithKline drugs. There will also be a lot of interesting data released regarding lung and ovarian cancers.

But as a generalist, my favorite preview of the meeting is the one put together by TheStreet.com's Adam Feuerstein, which I crib from below. We'll be watching these stories over the next month and posting our favorite highlights in the next issue of Biopharmaceutical Executive. Be on the lookout for:

Incyte/Novartis' ruxolitinib, for myelofibrosis and other hemotologic disorders, which reported two successful phase 3 studies in December and March, but added new safety data to its ASCO abstract and will be detailing the second study for the first time at the meeting;
Ariad Pharmaceuticals/Merck's ridaforolimus, for soft-tissue and bone sarcomas, has already reported a reduction in tumor progression, but is still following survival, and the companies plan to file for approval this year;
Exelixis, which has already reported some great results for cabozantinib in prostate and other cancers and will be the subject of three oral presentations;
AstraZeneca's olaparib, for ovarian cancer, which has reported encouraging phase 2 results;
Nektar Therapeutics' NKTR-102, also for ovarian as well as breast cancer, which recently got orphan designation in ovarian cancer and is expected to enter phase 3 soon;
Onyx Pharmaceuticals' Nexavar, which is approved for kidney and liver cancer but has also shown promise in breast cancer.
Celgene's Abraxane (which it acquired with Abraxis Biosciences last year), which is already sold for breast cancer but has shown promise in lung cancer.

Still, never rule out those surprises that lift a largely overlooked program into the spotlight!

-Karl Thiel

Read the BioPharm Executive online newsletter May 2011.

Sign-up for the free monthly subscription to the BioPharm Executive.

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