Where Will the Next Gleevec Come From? Xconomy Forum Looks At the Edge of Cancer R&D

Xconomy Boston — 

The past decade of cancer research and development was mainly about getting targeted. Chemotherapy that kills all kinds of cells—cancerous and healthy—is still a mainstay of treatment, but more targeted cancer drugs like Roche’s bevacizumab (Avastin) and Novartis’ imatinib (Gleevec) finally broke through and fulfilled at least some of their promise. They showed drugs could hit precise molecular targets integral to the growth and spread of cancer cells, and by doing that, they could hold tumors in check and help people live longer.

That’s past, but where are things heading in the future? Will this be the decade that molecular diagnostics come along and catch cancer at its earliest, most treatable stage? Will the era of complete human genomes for $1,000 a pop finally make the vision of personalized medicine a reality? Or will a whole new generation of antibody drugs and targeted small molecules continue to make step-by-by-step progress (and the occasional leap ahead) against specific malignancies?

These are the kind of questions we will explore on October 20 at our next big event in Boston, called “Xconomy Forum: Boston’s War on Cancer.” We’ll hear keynote talks from someone on the leading edge of research in New England (Tyler Jacks of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT) and a leading pharmaceutical industry executive (Deborah Dunsire of Millennium:The Takeda Oncology Company).

In between, as we always do at Xconomy, we will highlight some of the most interesting entrepreneurs and startups pursuing creative strategies in the fight against cancer. We’ll hear 20-minute overview presentations from Doug Fambrough, the CEO of Watertown, MA-based Dicerna Pharmaceuticals; Mark Goldsmith, the CEO of Cambridge, MA-based Constellation Pharmaceuticals; and Dave Okrongly, the CEO of Cambridge, MA-based Quanterix. They will offer up their own insights into what’s hot in RNA interference, epigenetics, and molecular diagnostics, respectively.

Deborah Dunsire

Deborah Dunsire

We’ll hear some added perspectives from executives who are pursuing equally innovative strategies, but are currently pushing through the long and expensive slog known as the FDA approval process for a new drug. We’ll bring together Tuan Ha-Ngoc, the CEO of Aveo Pharmaceuticals; Adelene Perkins, the CEO of Infinity Pharmaceuticals; Nancy Simonian, the chief medical officer of Millennium:Takeda; and Alexis Borisy, the CEO of Foundation Medicine and a partner with Third Rock Ventures to talk about the challenges and opportunities they see in cancer drug development. Xconomy’s national life sciences columnist, Sylvia Pagan Westphal, will moderate.

I’m excited to fly in for this event to see all these folks who are leaders in New England, but also on the international stage. There are some tickets left for this event, but there is limited seating, so it’s a good idea to register now by clicking here. See you on October 20.