Three of the world’s biggest drugmakers are chasing what many analysts consider to be the next multi-billion dollar opportunity in cancer immunotherapy. All three companies are going to show their stuff at the next big Xconomy Seattle event on April 22.
Genentech, the South San Francisco-based biotech giant that’s part of Roche, is the third and final big company that has agreed to present at “What’s Hot in Cancer Immunotherapy” on April 22 at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Genentech’s vice president of cancer immunology, Ira Mellman, has agreed to join the program to talk about the company’s experimental antibody aimed at the PD-L1 molecular target. Genentech hopes this drug will inhibit a mechanism tumors use to disguise themselves from the immune system.
The Genentech talk will come right after short overviews from executives at its two biggest competitors in this field—Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) and Merck (NYSE: MRK). Each of these companies has its own ideas on how best to approach the PD-1/PD-L1 molecular pathway, how to combine various therapies that (hopefully, safely) unleash the immune system against tumors, and which patient populations to serve first.
The renewed enthusiasm around cancer immunotherapy was Science magazine’s “Breakthrough of the Year” in 2013, and the story is only getting bigger heading into this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Besides the presentations you can expect from the big companies, this Xconomy event will feature a group of startups with their own different ideas of how to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer.
This event is on pace to sell out, probably a couple weeks in advance. So I’d suggest buying a ticket soon if you really want to be there.
On a personal note, many readers have seen that I announced that I’m leaving Xconomy this week to dive in full-time on my next project, a biography of Leroy Hood. However, I have agreed to come back for one day to perform my usual duty as event emcee/moderator for this conference. I look forward to hearing what the speakers have to say about what’s new, and seeing lots of familiar faces. I really appreciate all the kind remarks I’ve heard the past couple days from readers.
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