Addressing Cancer Earlier

Expanding Existing I-O Research

September 08, 2017 | Michelle Rashford, Executive Director, Clinical Development


he introduction of immuno-oncology (I-O) therapies into clinical practice for patients with certain advanced or metastatic cancers refractory to other treatments has yielded improvements for many patients, including overall survival, progression-free survival and duration of response. Yet, not all patients with advanced cancers have experienced such outcomes. At the core of our research at Bristol Myers Squibb is exploring why some patients are more responsive than others to I-O treatments.

Michelle Rashford

Michelle Rashford, Executive Director, Clinical Development

In particular, we are investigating whether using I-O therapies earlier in the disease might help improve outcomes for those whose cancers are locally advanced, in either neoadjuvant, consolidation or adjuvant settings. If we can identify the most appropriate timing, dosing and duration of I-O therapy that favorably and safely alters the course of disease, we might be able to offer more patients an effective means of improving their survival.

Our approach is based on the well-established precedent of neoadjuvant intervention in a number of cancers. Neoadjuvant use aims to alter the disease prior to subsequent treatments. For example, neoadjuvant use of chemotherapies often is employed to shrink solid tumors as a prelude for surgery, with the goal of less extensive and easier operations and reduced associated morbidities. Neoadjuvant treatments can also help to down-stage tumors and curtail micrometastisis. Consolidation and adjuvant therapies aim to thwart cancer recurrence after initial treatment, particularly in metastatic sites. Whereas consolidation therapy may be used after chemotherapy or radiation, adjuvant cancer therapy is typically applied after surgery.

Addressing Cancer Earlier

As for our research, we are exploring how investigational therapies in the neoadjuvant setting, either alone or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or other therapies, might impact advanced cancers in patients who have not yet received treatment. Within the adjuvant setting, Bristol Myers Squibb is expanding its existing research in I-O therapies across a variety of advanced tumor types, including melanoma. As for researching consolidation, as part of the International Immuno-Oncology Network (II-ON), a global peer-to-peer collaboration between Bristol Myers Squibb and academia focused on advance research to improve patient outcomes, we’re looking how I-O therapies work in locally advanced unresectable disease after initial treatment.

If our research in any of these settings reveals that using I-O therapies earlier in the treatment pathway provides a viable approach, the potential to improve outcomes could extend to a much larger population of patients. We will continue to steadfastly look for such new approaches, knowing that while there may be failures, we are striving toward successes that will provide treatment solutions earlier in the pathway.