Following the early science to fight cancer


David Berman Senior Vice-President, Head of Oncology Innovative Medicines, MedImmune

This week’s European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2016 Congress will highlight preliminary data from our Immuno-Oncology (IO) development programme in lung and head and neck cancer, as well as our early-stage portfolio. Our presentations are notable not only for the clinical results but also for the innovative science that underpins our approach.

There are two major targets for cancer therapies — the tumour and the immune system. Our small molecule and biologics pipelines, which are focused on both targets, are well positioned to help patients too many of whom are still dying from cancer.

Broad, deep early IO portfolio

A healthy immune system can eliminate cancer before it grows. However, in a Darwinian struggle, cancer cells can evolve under the pressure of the immune system’s defenses and escape elimination. Our early IO portfolio focuses on addressing three main routes by which a cancer can escape elimination, including

  • Absent response—where a patient’s immune system does not detect the cancer, our investigational programmes aim to trigger a productive immune response. 

  • Weak response—when a patient’s immune system attempts to fight the cancer, but the response is inadequate, our investigational programmes attempt to convert the response from weak to strong. 

  • Suppressed response—sometimes a patient’s immune system is actively engaged, but the cancer cells erect suppressive barriers. Our investigational programmes attempt to remove these barriers to allow the immune system to effectively fight the cancer.

Combinations core to our IO strategy
Cancers can use multiple approaches to evade the immune system. This is why pursuing combinations is core to our IO strategy, including combining different biologics and biologics with small molecules or chemotherapies. 
Our oncology strategy emphasises combinations, and in parallel, companion diagnostics. We’ve also advanced our understanding of antibody drug conjugates (ADCs), optimising their power through better antibody engineering, and we have the industry-leading warhead technology with our Spirogen acquisition. 
We have eight ongoing, internally sponsored IO combination trials from Phase 1 through Phase 3 and a growing IO portfolio that targets multiple mechanisms of 
immune evasion including PD-1/PD-L1, CTLA4, OX40, CD73, NKG2A and GITR pathways.

Following the science
With ongoing Phase 3 IO combination trials in lung, bladder, and head and neck cancers, we have carefully selected combination doses and regimens based on rigorous science to optimise safety, efficacy and pharmacodynamic effects. We have presented some of these encouraging data through both peer-reviewed journals and at conferences that include the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ACSO) 2016 congress.

We believe the early science and clinical data that we have generated will ultimately lead to life-saving drugs for cancer patients. We have joined the fight against cancer, and our audacious goal is to end it—our science has armed us with the capabilities and the potential to target, search for and destroy cancer.

ATLAS ID: 1013137.011
Date of next review: October 2017