IO Summit Show Preview: Boston-bound for immuno-oncology

Come to Boston again, or for the first time, to get the insight on immuno-oncology

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Cambridge Healthtech Institute
Seventh Annual Immuno-Oncology Summit
August 5-9, 2019
Westin Boston Waterfront
Boston-bound for immuno-oncology
Come to Boston again, or for the first time, to get the insight on immuno-oncology
By Jeffrey Bouley
BOSTON—The Cambridge Healthtech Institute (CHI) Immuno-Oncology Summit will once again be in Boston for its seventh annual outing, though this time at the Westin Boston Waterfront. Over these last seven years, CHI says, the Immuno-Oncology Summit has become the leading annual meeting focusing on the latest applied research, providing comprehensive and in-depth coverage across all modalities and stages in the pipeline.
“Every year, we assemble an international mix of thought leaders and decision-makers from industry and academia to bring you the latest developments in immuno-oncology, while providing access to a comprehensive five-day program and extensive networking opportunities that CHI's IO Summit provides,” said Julia Boguslavsky, CHI’s executive director for conferences, in a welcome/invitation letter on the IO Summit website at
Further, she notes, after extensive research with industry insiders, CHI identified a “top 10” of key growth areas in immuno-oncology for 2019, which are reflected throughout the upcoming program, as follows:
  • Combination Immunotherapy: Nine dedicated sessions throughout the program will explore emerging targets for combination immunotherapy, combining different immunotherapy modalities and targeted therapies, combination strategies to increase response to checkpoint modulators and patient selection for combination immunotherapy.
  • Advances in Immunotherapy Modalities: Three established tracks on oncolytic virotherapy, adoptive cell therapy and personalized vaccines will provide in-depth coverage of the latest advances and networking with thought leaders in each area, while offering perspective on how they fit within the broader scope of immunotherapy implementation.
  • Emerging Targets: A recurring theme throughout IO Summit sessions will explore emerging targets for immunomodulatory antibodies in combination with checkpoint inhibitors, targeting cytokines, innate immunity and tumor microenvironment, neoantigen targets and small-molecule targets.
  • Bispecific Antibodies: Leading industry thought leaders will address T cell-engaging bispecific antibodies, combination immunotherapy by multiple target engagement and engineering bispecific and multi-specific antibodies.
  • Predictive Translational Tools: Three dedicated tracks will provide in-depth coverage of key enabling tools for translational immuno-oncology: IO Biomarkers, Preclinical & Translational IO and Informatics for Immunotherapy.
  • Small Molecules: A new track on next-generation immunotherapies will cover the latest and most promising approaches in immunotherapy, including small molecules and antibody-drug conjugates, protein engineering and more.
  • Cytokines: Cytokines are making a comeback by offering a new class of immunotherapy targets or by being used as immunotherapies themselves, alone or in combination with checkpoint inhibitors.
  • Targeting Innate Immunity: Latest research from pharma, biotech, and academia across multiple tracks will review emerging innate immunity targets and their utility in improving response to checkpoint modulators.
  • Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy: A dedicated session will review clinical trials of neoadjuvant immunotherapy and its impact on clinical decision making.
  • Overcoming Resistance to Immunotherapy: Lack of response or acquired resistance to immunotherapy has emerged as one of the biggest challenges in clinical adoption. Multiple sessions throughout the program will explore characterization of response and resistance, predictive biomarkers of response and patient selection, and emerging immunotherapy strategies to overcome resistance and improve response.
Says Boguslavsky: “The IO Summit is a perfect meeting place to share experience, foster collaborations, evaluate emerging technologies and drive innovation in your immuno-oncology programs ... Whether you are an industry veteran or new adopter, researcher or business developer, scientist or CEO, this is one immuno-oncology event you don’t want to miss. If it’s important in 2019, it’s covered.”
CHI promises “comprehensive scientific coverage and unparalleled networking opportunities” at the event (72 percent of delegates hail from biotech and pharma), as well as noting it will deliver a cutting-edge agenda, more than 675 senior delegates and a sold-out exhibit hall that will feature more than 40 exhibitors and over 20 technical presentations.

Conference programs
Immunomodulatory Therapeutic Antibodies for Cancer
Emerging Targets, Combinations, and Antibody Engineering for Next-Generation Immunotherapy
Featured Presentations:
  • Cytokines as Emerging Immunotherapy Targets
  • Emerging Immunomodulatory Targets for Combination with Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Neoadjuvant Immunotherapy
  • Targeting Innate Immunity to Increase Response to Checkpoint Modulators
Combination Cancer Immunotherapy
Rational Combination Strategies to Improve Efficacy and Reduce Resistance
Featured Presentations:
  • Combination Strategies to Increase Response to Checkpoint Modulators
  • Combining Immunotherapy Modalities
  • Combining Immunotherapy with Other Cancer Therapies
  • Biomarkers to Guide Combination Immunotherapy
  • Targeting Innate Immunity to Increase Response to Checkpoint Modulators
Immuno-Oncology Biomarkers
Predictive Biomarkers and Companion Diagnostics
Featured Presentations:
  • Liquid Biopsy for Immuno-Oncology
  • Predictive Biomarkers for Immuno-Oncology
  • Genomic Biomarkers in Immunotherapy Development
  • Biomarkers to Guide Combination Immunotherapy
  • Tumor Immune Microenvironment Characterization
Adoptive Cell Therapy–ACT 2
Engineering the Second Generation of CAR Ts, NKs, TCRs, and TILs
Featured Presentations:
  • ACT 2: Targeting the Tumor
  • ACT 2: Therapeutic T Cells
  • ACT 2: Enhancing CAR Constructs
Bispecific Antibodies for Cancer Immunotherapy
Engineering Next-Generation Biotherapeutics in Immuno-Oncology
Featured Presentations:
  • T Cell-engaging Bispecific Antibodies
  • Bispecific Antibodies for Combination Immunotherapy
  • Engineering Bispecific and Multi-Specific Antibodies
Preclinical and Translational Immuno-Oncology
Predictive Preclinical Models and Translational Strategies for Cancer Immunotherapy
Featured Presentations:
  • Characterization of Response and Resistance to Immunotherapy
  • Cellular Models for Immunotherapy Development
  • Developing Clinically Relevant Mouse Models for Immuno-Oncology
Informatics for Cancer Immunotherapies
Data Analytics in a Dynamic Landscape
Featured Presentations:
  • Oncology Data Management and Analytical Tools
  • Data Guides Novel Immunotherapeutic Strategies
  • Data Guides Clinical Trials and Patient Selection
Oncolytic Virus Immunotherapy
Realizing the Exciting Potential of Oncolytic Virotherapy
Featured Presentations:
  • Latest Updates and Future Directions in Oncolytic Virotherapy
  • Combinational Strategies to Enhance Activity
  • Improving OV Potency and Efficacy
Next-Generation Immunotherapies
Engineering Next-Gen Biotherapeutics in Immuno-Oncology
Featured Presentations:
  • Protein Engineering for Next-Gen Immunotherapies
  • Engineering Cytokine Therapeutics
  • Small Molecules and ADCs For Emerging Immunotherapy Targets
Emerging Immuno-Oncology Targets
Novel Targets and Pathways for Cancer Immunotherapy and Combinations
Featured Presentations:
  • Neoantigen Targeted Therapies
  • Targeting Innate Immunity
  • Small Molecules and ADCs For Emerging Immunotherapy Targets
Neoantigen Targeted Therapies
Personalized Cancer Immunotherapy in the Genomic Era
Featured Presentations:
  • Neoantigen Targeted Therapies
  • Neoantigen Selection and Targeting
  • Personalized Vaccines for Combination Immunotherapy
Personalized Cancer Vaccines
Advancing Personalized and Combination Immunotherapy
Featured Presentations:
  • Personalized Vaccines
  • Neoantigen Selection and Targeting
  • Personalized Vaccines for Combination Immunotherapy

Featured speakers
Litao Zhang, vice president, leads discovery and optimization, Bristol-Myers Squibb
Rakesh Dixit, vice president, R&D, MedImmune
John Desjarlais, Ph.D., senior vice president, research, CSO, Xencor
Pamela Carroll, Ph.D., senior vice president, immuno-oncology, Genocea
Jianda Yuan, M.D., Ph.D., senior director, translational oncology, Merck
Andrew Allen, president and CEO, Gritstone Oncology
Michael Woo, head, immuno-oncology, business development, Novartis
Catherine Sabatos-Peyton, director, exploratory immuno-oncology, Novartis
Cokey Nguyen, senior director, oncology R&D, Pfizer
Jon Wigginton, senior vice president and CMO, MacroGenics
Adrian Bot, vice president, translational sciences, Kite, a Gilead Company
Tara Arvedson, director, oncology research, Amgen
Philip Arlen, president and CEO, Precision Biologics
Arthur Krieg, founder and CSO, Checkmate Pharmaceuticals
Kevin R. Webster, senior vice president, eFFECTOR Therapeutics
Stephen Doberstein, chief research and development officer, Nektar Therapeutics
David Kirn, co-founder and executive chairman, IGNITE Immunotherapy
Kathryn McCabe, senior director, emerging technology and innovation, Eli Lilly
Scott M. DeWire, global head, business development and licensing, Boehringer Ingelheim
Jeroen H. Blokhuis, director, business development, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy

Plenary keynote session
Panel discussion: Partnering and Licensing in Immuno-Oncology
Big pharma and biotech are under pressure to compete in the booming Immuno-Oncology market and to capitalize on new technologies and innovations to bring next-generation immunotherapies to the patients. This insider panel will share what they look for in a partner or investment, and discuss opportunities for collaboration or in-licensing of novel immunotherapies, IO targets or biomarkers, and potential combination therapies.
Jeroen H. Blokhuis, Ph.D., director, business development, partnerships, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy
  • Michael Woo, head, search and evaluation, immuno-oncology, business development & licensing, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, Inc.
  • Kathryn McCabe, Ph.D., senior director, business development, emerging technology and innovation, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Scott M. DeWire, Ph.D., global head, business development and licensing, cancer immunology, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Philip Arlen, M.D., president and CEO, Precision Biologics
  • Stephen Doberstein, Ph.D., senior vice president, R&D and chief research and development officer, Nektar Therapeutics

Training seminars
August 5-6
Introduction to Cancer Immunotherapy Discovery and Development
Dina Schneider, Ph.D., associate director, translational research, Lentigen Technology, a Miltenyi Biotec Company
This course will cover the recent advances in cancer immunotherapy discovery and development. Immune checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T therapies have recently gained regulatory approval in the United States and the European Union. TILs- and TCR-based therapies, as well as cancer vaccines are areas of great promise. Combination therapies are contributing to the clinical progress where single therapies fail. Advances in high throughput sequencing and immunogenomics aid in identifying novel tumor antigens, improving effector molecules and vaccines, and predicting clinical outcomes.
Speaker biography
Dina Schneider is a scientist and inventor with over 15 years of experience in academia and industry. She earned her Ph.D. from Michigan State University and did her postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan. Her academic career spanned diverse areas of interest, including cellular and molecular immunology, immunotoxicology, inflammation, and molecular biology. In 2011, Schneider transitioned to industry, where she contributed to numerous projects in synthetic immunology, immunotherapy and chimeric antigen receptor T cell-based therapy. At Lentigen Technology, her group is focused on preclinical development of novel CAR-based therapies targeting hematologic malignancies as well as solid tumors, and on the implementation of CliniMACS Prodigy clinical platform for preparation of cell-based therapeutics. Her recent work includes the development of novel CAR therapies, three of which are now in the clinic.
August 6-7
Introduction to Immunology for Drug Discovery Scientists
Masha Fridkis-Hareli, Ph.D., founder and president, ATR LLC
Tatiana Novobrantseva, Ph.D., co-founder, chief scientific officer, Verseau Therapeutics
This 1.5-day seminar will cover the fundamentals of human immunology for an audience of scientists across different backgrounds working in pharmaceutical and biotech organizations in programs related to immunotherapy. The course will cover a historical perspective, basic mechanisms, fundamental concepts and practical approaches to developing therapeutics and their combinations to modulate the immune system. Additionally, the class will offer perspectives on how immune responses can be monitored by assessment of biomarkers and modulated through biopharmaceutical intervention. Through group activities, attendees will actively review immunological concepts as well as design functional immunological assays and read-outs.
Speaker biographies
Masha Fridkis-Hareli is an immunologist, consultant and inventor with over 20 years of experience in academia and industry. Her company, ATR, is a translational research company providing scientific consulting and laboratory services in immunoassay development to research institutions and the biotechnology industry. During her postdoctoral training at Harvard University, she designed and developed a group of novel compounds for treatment of autoimmune diseases. After serving as principal investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, she transitioned to industry where she held a variety of positions with increasing responsibilities at Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals, Charles River Laboratories, Taligen Therapeutics and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Fridkis-Hareli is a co-author of over 100 publications and 17 issued patents.
Tatiana Novobrantseva’s company, Verseau, is creating a new class of therapeutics, macrophage checkpoint modulators, to benefit patients with cancer, immune and inflammatory diseases. Prior to co-founding Verseau, she consulted for multiple companies on various immunological aspects of drug development across different stages and therapeutic modalities. At her prior position as director of tumor immunology at Jounce Therapeutics, she defined research plans for several programs at the company’s inception, as well as led a portfolio of programs on (re)activating the immune system against cancer. Her previous positions include associate director at Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and scientist at Biogen. Some of her scientific accomplishments include discovering the critical role for B cells in liver fibrosis, pushing the envelope on siRNA delivery to immune cells, and championing a siRNA-assisted dendritic cell cancer vaccine project.

Debiopharm expands program for Debio 1143
LAUSANNE, Switzerland—Debiopharm announced in May the first patient enrolled in SMARTPLUS-106, an exploratory study investigating the safety and efficacy of Debio 1143, a first-in-class oral IAP (inhibitor of apoptosis proteins) inhibitor, in combination with the immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) nivolumab, in patients with advanced solid tumors, such as small cell lung cancer (SCLC) or squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (SCCHN), who have progressed during or immediately after anti-PD-1/PD-L1 treatment.
Despite improved progression-free survival and overall survival rates observed with ICIs in some patients, most either do not respond to treatment or ultimately develop resistance to therapy, with only 10 to 30 percent of patients showing a durable treatment response. The combination of ICIs with Debio 1143 is expected to have strong therapeutic potential through its dual mode of action, fostering antitumor immunity and promoting programmed cell death in tumor cells.
Debio 1143 has demonstrated synergy with PD-1/PD-L1 ICIs, including nivolumab, promoting tumor immunity in preclinical models of cancer. Therefore, the compound is expected to offer an immune-sensitizing effect and enhance patient response to ICIs. With SMARTPLUS-106, part of the broadest immune-oncology IAP clinical research program, Debiopharm hopes to extend the reach of current immunotherapy.
“As IAP inhibition has shown synergistic potential in combination with immunotherapeutic agents, this study is of critical importance to document the clinical efficacy of this new treatment combination in patients not responding to ICIs,” said Angela Zubel, chief development officer of Debiopharm.
Institut Curie and Pierre Fabre strengthen their immuno-oncology partnership
PARIS & CASTRES, France—Building on the success of their first agreement entered into in 2017, Institut Curie and the Pierre Fabre Research Institute (IRPF) are renewing their partnership to identify new therapeutic strategies in immuno-oncology. The two partners aim to explore new molecular targets that are likely to adjust the immunity involved in controlling cancer development using models developed by Institut Curie in collaboration with IRPF based on human tumor cells.
“To build on the success of our first partnership initiated in 2017 with the Pierre Fabre Research Institute, we are going to launch a new joint project to understand the immune environment of tumors and better exploit it to combat cancer,” explained Sebastian Amigorena, director of the Cancer Immunotherapy Center at Institut Curie and Director of the Immunity and Cancer Research Unit, “We are going to involve a second team from Institut Curie’s U932 Unit and focus on a detailed analysis of a new, innovative target using human cell models specifically developed for immuno-oncology research. Through this cooperation, we hope to provide a tangible contribution to developing a new therapeutic target for treating cancer patients using immunotherapy,”
Added Dr. Eric Chetaille, director of the Oncology Innovation Unit at Pierre Fabre: “[Our] expertise in oncology is based on 35 years’ experience in the discovery, development, production and commercialization of new treatments. The strengthening of our strategic partnership with Institut Curie is in line with our commitment to providing transformative therapies for cancer patients. It will bring together the exceptional immuno-oncology expertise of Institut Curie’s oncologists and biologists with our research and development teams’ ability to quickly develop anti-cancer drug candidates on a new therapeutic target.”
Publications support potential of LNAplus antisense oligonucleotide platform
MUNICH—Secarna Pharmaceuticals, a new breed of biopharmaceutical company focusing on the discovery and development of antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies to address challenging or previously undruggable targets, recently announced that data related to two of its immuno-oncology programs have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
“These published data support the ability of our platform to design novel antisense compounds that have the potential to enhance the efficacy of existing therapies, including PD-1 inhibitors, or overcome the limitations of cell-based therapies such as T cell therapies,” said Jonas Renz, managing director and co-founder of Secarna Pharmaceuticals. “We look forward to advancing these programs in development, including initiating IND-enabling studies with our ASOs against CD-39.”
The first article, “Antisense oligonucleotide targeting CD39 improves anti-tumor T cell immunity,” was published in the Journal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer. The article discusses in part how, in order to advance the progress made in recent years in treating cancer with immunotherapy, more efficient strategies are needed to prevent tumors from evading the immune system and to make them more susceptible to attack by immune cells. CD39 is expressed in different immune cells, as well as certain types of tumor cells, and supports the tumor in escaping immune recognition and destruction.
Secarna’s ASO approach differs from other approaches in development targeting this pathway (CD39/CD73). While antibodies and small molecules in development may modulate the activity of already expressed targets, ASOs are designed to prevent the formation of the target protein by degrading its mRNA. Further attributes of Secarna’s ASO approach compared to conventional approaches include enhanced stability and half-life, which could result in longer-lasting effects, high target specificity that could reduce side effects and—in comparison to antibodies—low molecular weight, resulting in better tumor penetration.
Using its proprietary third-generation antisense drug discovery platform LNAplus, Secarna identified ASOs against CD39. In the recently published data, anti-CD39 ASOs were shown to potently suppress CD39 in various cell types in both in vitro and in vivo models of cancer and revert immunosuppressive functions of CD39.
The company plans to further characterize the anti-CD39 ASOs to determine which ones to bring forward for further development.
The other paper, “ER stress-induced mediator C/EBP homologous protein thwarts effector T cell activity in tumors through T-bet repression,” published in Nature Communications, is about how proof of principle was established in terms of the ability of Secarna’s ASOs to enhance efficacy of T cell-based therapies
Dr. Paulo Rodriguez, associate member of the Department of Immunology and his team at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Fla., investigated how the immune system becomes dysfunctional in cancer patients, with the hope that a better understanding of these mechanisms may lead to improved treatment strategies. In particular, this work further elucidated the role of the protein, Chop (C/EBP homologous protein) in cancer.
As part of this research, Secarna designed ASOs against Chop, and they were applied to T cells ex vivo to determine the effect of silencing Chop expression in CD8+ T cells, an important type of immune cell. In an in-vivo model for T cell therapies, ex-vivo treatment of T cells with Chop-specific ASOs markedly enhanced tumor control.
More research on the potential of ASOs to improve the efficacy of cell-based therapies such as T cell therapies is planned.

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