“The key for the future in Immunotherapy is combinations” #LBRefresh

Another of our key topics at Labiotech Refresh was Immunotherapy. Here a panel composed of experts within the field gave their thoughts on the challenges of R&D in this ‘Hype’ area of medicine.

Moderated by Chris Maggos (Managing Director -­ LifeSci Advisors Europe), the panel was made up of Aram Mangasarian (CEO ­of Noxxon Pharma), Peter Llewellyn­-Davies (CEO of­ acCELLerate Partners) and Stephane Boissel (CEO ­of TxCell).

Some of the topics discussed were the 3rd approved checkpoint inhibitor from Roche (which is very exciting news in the fight against Cancer), and how CAR-T is really taking off. As Stephane Boissel commented on the field:

…in 5 to 10 years, it could become as big as the antibody was (Rituximab was now 15 years ago)” 

But what are the most difficult therapies to manufacture in Biotech? And is Immuno-Oncology too hype? How much risk is involved?


Aram Mangasarian and Peter Llewellyn­-Davies on the stage of Labiotech Refresh

As Chris Maggos explained, approval of novel immunotherapies is a particularly difficult area for Biotechs to gage – “For autologous therapies (1 drug per patient), the approval process is unknown territory, being pioneered right now“. And on checkpoint inhibitors like PD-1 and PD-L1, Mangasarian commented:

One approach is not going to fit all of them”.

This is because part of the difficulty with these approaches (such as TxCell’s), is that when compared to CAR-T there is still a difference in medical evaluation of the two.

And tumor microenvironments are another area of growing interest, as evident in a recent study by Pfizer. Afterall, it’s still a relatively new field of medicine.


Chris Maggos and Stephane Boissel on the stage of Labiotech Refresh

However, manufacturing and pricing are the key areas where the industry is still struggling to improve. And this is because of the cost of developing and producing many immunotherapies is dependent on the individual patient.

The biggest challenge for any company is the cost of manufacturing – as it is patient specific…” – Peter Llewellyn-Davies.

Watch the talk to hear what their arguments are. We also still have 2 more panels which we will publish on from the day. Stay tuned.

Feature Image Credit: The Immunotherapy Panel at Labiotech Refresh Berlin, May 24th, 2016 (CC 3.0 – Claire Braun at Labiotech.eu)

All images of the conference speakers are available on our Flickr account under a Creative Commons 3.0 License. Feel free to share!

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