Deep Dive Oncology special: reflections on ASCO

Welcome to a special edition of Deep Dive focusing exclusively on Oncology. This is the first of a series of Deep Dive issues which combine unique insight and opinion with the best from a leading medical conference.

The conference in question this time around is the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference, which I attended in June.

The star of the conference this year was undoubtedly Merck & Co’s immunotherapy Keytruda – a cancer drug that is dominating the lung cancer market but is also versatile enough to be used in other tumours and blood cancer.

The message from ASCO is that there could be more to come from Keytruda, as outlined by Merck & Co’s research chief Roy Baynes in an interview.  click here

Merck is looking to increase the response rate and effectiveness of the drug by combining it with other agents.

These include oncolytic viruses, which are emerging as a potential way to overcome the drawbacks of antibody-based immunotherapies.

Other highlights in the special edition include:

Andrew Merron, executive director, oncology at healthcare research and consulting firm Decision Resources Group also gives his thoughts on development strategies for checkpoint inhibitors.

Insight’s from ASCO into CAR-T cell therapies for drug cancer, which have significantly raised the bar in certain advanced blood cancers since their approval last year.

There are also reviews of the latest research in prostate and breast cancer drugs, and how digital technology could help diagnose cancer earlier, helping patients manage their therapy.

Staying on the theme of technology, I have included a piece on how blockchain technology could transform cancer care from Witty Health, which specialises in drug-device combinations.

Matt Coffey, president and chief executive officer of Oncolytics Biotech talk about the oncolytic virus renaissance and how it is improving the efficacy of current immunotherapies

Plus, health economist Leela Barham reviews the latest ways to assess the worth of new cancer drugs, and the implications for pharma and patients too.

ASCO demonstrated the huge progress that has been made in the field of oncology – but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Many oncologists define a cure for cancer as a patient being free of disease five years from the end of treatment. ASCO showed that this target is already achievable in some diseases. And thanks to the latest therapies it is moving ever closer in some of the more insidious and difficult to treat tumours.

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