Cancer Immunotheraphies Heat Up: CAR T, Checkpoint Inhibitors and beyond

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This week, Merck and Dynavax announced a collaboration to study cancer immunotherapies based on a combination of Dynavax’s toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist candidate SD-101 with Merck’s Keytuda® (pembrolizumab), and, in a separate investigation, anti-interleukin-10 (anti-IL-10) immunomodulator MK-1966.

Elsewhere this week, OncoSec Medical debuted on NASDAQ, based on strong pre-clinical data on their upcoming clinical trials to treat triple breast cancer. This followed the announcement of a Sponsored Research Agreement (SRA) with Massachusetts General Hospital, to study the immunologic mechanisms underlying the anti-tumor effects of OncoSec’s clinical stage platform, ImmunoPulseTMIL-12. The platform is based on the introduction of DNA-based Interleukin-12 into subjects.

Also this week, Amgen and Kite Pharma announced a joint collaboration to develop and commercialize what they termed “the next generation” of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapies, following positive positive results from a Phase I/IIa trial, showing that eight of 13 patients with advanced B cell malignancies had complete remissions after receiving anti-CD19 CAR T cells.

These are just some of the more high profile recent examples of cancer immunotherapy treatments showing promising advances through clinical stages. Such immunotherapies are poised for exponential growth in the coming decade, if the recent market reports are anything to go by. Small biotechs, as well as large pharmaceuticals, are aggressively penetrating this market and adopting new technologies with high hopes for return. Novartis, having heavily invested in the CAR T cell therapy market so far, is expected to join competitors Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Roche and AstraZeneca in developing checkpoint inhibitor drugs. These drugs are expected to lead the cancer immunotherapy market to multi-billion dollar status in the next decade.

Checkpoint inhibitor drugs were heavily featured at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting earlier this month, where multiple trials were presented showing a large amount of positive data based on checkpoint inhibitor-based treatments. More on some of these treatments is here.

Apart from positive effects when used individually, industry sentiments – and pre-clinical data – appear to favor combination strategies as having better efficacy outcomes than single-agent approaches.

Akron Biotech is the premier provider of several key raw materials for cell therapy. We provide small and established biotech and pharma clients with regulated raw materials for all stages of clinical development. Contact us with your manufacturing needs.


Meet Akron at ARM’S Science & Technology Committee Workshop on Cell & Gene Therapy Standards

This week, Akron Biotech will attaned the Alliance of Regenerative Medicine’s workshop Science & Technology Committee Workshop on Cell & Gene Therapy Standards, to be held Monday June 15 at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. For more information including agenda details, see here.


ISSCR Annual Meeting

Akron will attend the ISSCR Annual Meeting to be held in Stockholm, Sweden from 24-27 June, 2015. To schedule an individual meeting, contact us at





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