The Future of Cancer Care: Observations from the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) Annual Meeting

November 13, 2017

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ast week, more than 2,700 researchers gathered at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) 32nd Annual Meeting in National Harbor, Md., to exchange ideas and present the latest advances in cancer research. Here, several Bristol-Myers Squibb leaders share their perspectives on the most exciting highlights and trends coming out of the meeting. 

Novel Mechanisms in the Tumor Microenvironment

 

At SITC, researchers presented a broad range of data focused on the ways tumors avoid detection, and how we may be able to target these pathways and mechanisms to activate the immune system and destroy tumor cells. Because every tumor is unique and uses a different pathway, or pathways, it has become essential to study many different mechanisms to address high areas of unmet patient need. 

“The field of immuno-oncology (I-O) continues to expand, as evidenced by the sheer number of different pathways and approaches we heard about at the meeting.” — Chief Scientific Officer Tom Lynch

“The field of immuno-oncology (I-O) continues to expand, as evidenced by the sheer number of different pathways and approaches we heard about at the meeting,” said Tom Lynch, chief scientific officer at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “We’ve long believed that the future of I-O will rely on combinations of different agents to address a patient’s specific tumor biology. The more options we have to address cancer based on disease biology, the closer we are to realizing precision medicine for more patients.”

This approach continues to guide Bristol-Myers Squibb’s robust early clinical development pipeline, with more than 15 oncology mechanisms in clinical studies targeting a variety of different pathways. At SITC, Bristol-Myers Squibb had the opportunity to present the first disclosures for several new assets, including those targeting the OX40 and CSF1R immune pathways. 

Maximizing the Potential of PD-1 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors

 

The emergence of PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitors has established a new standard of care in cancer treatment. There are a number of patients, however, who become resistant to or do not respond to available immunotherapies. To address this issue, researchers are investigating novel mechanisms, many in combination with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 agents, to target complementary immune pathways and potentially more effectively attack cancer cells.

“Checkpoint inhibitors have already transformed how we treat cancer, but using these treatments as a backbone with other therapies has the potential to change outcomes for even more patients and tumor types” said Fouad Namouni, head of oncology development at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “The breadth of research presented combining CTLA4 and several novel agents with anti-PD-1 a reinforces our strategic approach to I-O drug development and our efforts to evaluate combinations across our extensive pipeline.”

As researchers work to solve emerging issues in I-O and study the potential of new mechanisms in combination with anti-PD-1/PD-L1 agents, collaboration is key to share learnings and generate fresh insights. 

“To see such a broad range of data from our collaborations being featured at SITC reinforces our viewpoint and encourages us to continue pursuing relationships with companies and institutions that are generating novel science.” — Paul Biondi, Head of Business Development at Bristol-Myers Squibb.


“Innovation in cancer research can be accelerated through clinical collaborations,” said Paul Biondi, senior vice president and head of business development at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “To see such a broad range of data from our collaborations being featured at SITC reinforces our viewpoint and encourages us to continue pursuing relationships with companies and institutions that are generating novel science.” 

Cutting-Edge Translational Research

Translational research is playing a critical role in furthering the understanding of cancer biology and emerging issues in oncology. This was evident during a pre-conference panel titled Immuno-Oncology Biomarkers: Today’s Imperatives for Tomorrow’s Needs, which brought together leaders from all across the industry to share the latest developments in emerging biomarker research.

“It was great to see such an emphasis on biomarker research at SITC – a critical area of research to shift the I-O paradigm. While we’ve made great progress, we know that certain biomarkers, such as PDL1, remain an imperfect tool to predict response in certain cancers,” said Saurabh Saha, head of translational medicine at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Developing more targeted treatment approaches is the future of cancer care, and we look forward to advancing research in this area.”

The panel highlighted a number of trending topics, including biomarkers for I-O resistance, new biomarkers for current treatments and immune-based diagnostics. Other exciting findings presented at SITC included new analyses evaluating potential biomarkers, such as LAG-3, in the tumor microenvironment.     

SITC may be over, but the efforts to better understand cancer biology and expand the number of patients who may benefit from I-O continues. To learn more about Bristol-Myers Squibb’s approach to I-O research, visit: https://iopathway.web.bms.com/