When it comes to novel drug discovery and development, flow cytometry is known for being both a powerful and versatile technology. It can deliver valuable information to advance early biomarker development, tolerability, clinical studies and even companion diagnostics. But leveraging flow cytometry technologies to answer analytical questions and empower decision making from the research lab to the clinic requires a deep knowledge of cutting-edge approaches.
Virginia Litwin, PhD, principal scientist, hematology/flow cytometry at Covance and her team are examining current trends in rare event analyses assays to ensure that performance is well characterized and fit-for-purpose – particularly in regulated environments. They are also addressing the various hurdles associated with analyzing cellular biomarkers for immunotherapy and adoptive cell therapy. Continue reading
Over the past several years, the scientific community has made tremendous progress in advancing our understanding of the immune system, from the basic functions of its various components to molecular pathways that operate within those components. With new, state-of-the-art tools and technologies, immunologists now have the ability to better understand the mechanisms of immune response to various antigens, thereby aiding them in the development of novel approaches to treat immune-system-related diseases and better design vaccines to combat infectious agents and cancer.
Currently, one of the most sensitive techniques available for the detection, measurement, and functional analysis of immune cells is the enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT) assay. Covance uses the ELISPOT technique in applications such as evaluation of vaccine efficacy and immunogenicity of biological products.
A recent study by Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, based on a survey of 2,000 physicians and nurses primarily in the United States and Europe, found that 91% of physicians feel ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ comfortable discussing the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial with patients, but actually refer less than 0.2% of their patients into clinical trials.1 In conjunction, more than 80% of patients say they are willing to participate in clinical research studies, but only around 10% actually do so.2 It is further reported that while 85% of patients are generally comfortable presenting any clinical research information they find to their doctor, only 17% have actually done so.3 And what of those patients that are interested in participating in a clinical study only to find they are ineligible? When queried on next steps after finding out he/she did not qualify, 36% stopped looking for a clinical research study to participate in.3 This latter fact is a staggering waste of potential when you consider that there are currently >130 planned or ongoing industry-sponsored Phase II-III rheumatoid arthritis (RA) studies to choose from (>210 when you consider any type of study sponsor).4
Biopharmaceutical companies both big and small have witnessed the shift toward patient-centric practices in the current healthcare landscape. As a result, many are now including or planning to incorporate the voice of the patient in their drug development strategy.
How do clinical research organizations (CROs) respond and support this increasing focus on patient-centric practices? We recently spoke to Jonathan Zung, PhD, group president, clinical development and commercialization services at Covance to understand his view on the patient centricity imperative and how it impacts clinical development activities.
Clinical trials are becoming increasingly complex and competitive, so attracting the best investigator sites to participate in a trial is a crucial step in meeting patient enrollment targets.
Delaying approval by even one day can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, depending on the drug. This means that timely trial implementation, including patient enrollment, may add significant value.
Meeting patient enrollment milestones in cooperation with investigators has traditionally been viewed as the responsibility of the contract research organization (CRO). Now, important new data show that a sponsor’s choice of a central lab impacts the willingness of investigators to work with a sponsor on clinical trials. Continue reading
Overcoming Design Challenges
ICH E14 REGULATORY GUIDANCE 2005 AND 2015
It has been one year since the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH) updated its 2005 cardiac safety guidelines. The 2015 update allows for specific QT interval analysis based upon concentration effect modeling up to supratherapeutic during Phase I as a reasonable substitute for a Thorough-QT (TQT) dedicated trial. These Phase I data along with preclinical results are submitted to the FDA prior to Phase III as a waiver request from a separate TQT study. This is good news! A dedicated TQT study involving time-wise comparisons of baseline corrected data is an expensive and lengthy endeavor. It typically takes place after proof of concept but before Phase III. Collection of QT information during an existing Phase I study costs substantially less and can provide go/no-go decisions much earlier. Continue reading
Whether large or small, vaccine studies differ from standard drug development in many ways. Sarah Slette, Sr. Study Manager, Vaccines & Novel Immunotherapeutics at Covance, explains the unique challenges her team faces and their solutions to rapidly deliver customized vaccine kits to sponsors’ sites across the globe.
For many technology companies entering the mobile health space, meeting US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements may be unfamiliar territory. The guidelines can appear convoluted and contradictory at first glance, and some devices and/or applications (apps) fall into regulatory grey areas.
To make progress in this rapidly changing field, companies need to find a way to work within the regulations while encouraging creative development. Consulting with experts and the FDA, considering key design issues, taking precautionary quality measures and assessing global requirements will increase the chances that a company can bring a safe and successful mobile health device and/or app to market.
As any drug developer knows, clinical trials generate a lot of raw and electronic data from multiple sources. Yet tracking progress and reviewing results from each separate database can be cumbersome in traditional environments. This “rear-view” mirror approach to monitoring doesn’t support preventative planning to mitigate future risks and can account for 20-30% of a trial’s costs.
Recognizing the opportunity increase efficiency and deliver information faster, Covance created Xcellerate® Monitoring, a platform that integrates clinical trial data to help sponsors proactively decrease the inherent risks associated with clinical trials.
At a recent clinical seminar in China, Dimitris Agrafiotis, PhD, Vice President, Chief Data Officer discussed how Xcellerate Monitoring tracks quality, patient safety and protocol compliance in clinical trials. Continue reading
What to Expect When Submitting Your First SEND Dataset to the FDA
With the December 17, 2016* requirement for the FDA Standard for the Exchange of Nonclinical Data (SEND*) fast-approaching, our Covance SEND action team prepared a dataset for test submission to the FDA. This helped us to better understand the FDA’s SEND submission requirements, build experience and confirm our readiness to help clients submit their SEND datasets.
During this process, we uncovered a couple of significant learnings:
- Allow for adequate time to prepare and submit to the FDA
- The process to deliver our first test submission took more than two months from kickoff to FDA notification
- It’s important to start early to understand the preparation time needed for submissions
- For test submissions only, the dataset must be submitted on a physical CD and sent to the FDA via postal mail
- This came as a surprise to us, since SEND is a streamlined electronic format of the data
- (Note: In a real submission, the SEND datasets will appear in a specific location labeled “tabulations” in the submission folder structure as described in section 7 of the FDA CDER/CBER Study Data Technical Conformance Guide).