Immuno-Oncology Studies: Optimizing Design, Recruitment and Execution

The rise of immunotherapy has been meteoric — there are now well more than 1,000 Purple DNA Strandimmuno-oncology (IO) trials ongoing according to clinicaltrials.gov. Finding and enrolling the appropriate patients for these potentially revolutionary treatments has presented a profound challenge, one that was recently covered in the aptly titled New York Times article: A Cancer Conundrum: Too Many Drug Trials, Too Few Patients. Another piece of the puzzle is clinical trial design, which can be especially elaborate when testing combination treatments in IO. Exacerbating these issues, IO trials are an increasingly competitive race to market. There is great value assigned to reducing development times and being the first drug approved within a class or for a specific indication.

This blog article discusses the current state of immuno-oncology studies, strategies for enhancing patient recruitment, the role of companion diagnostics and solutions for dealing with the complexity of IO combination studies. Continue reading

PK/PD Modeling and Simulation – A Brief Overview and Upcoming Blog Series

The year I graduated from college was the same year an old family friend was retiring. He had spent the majority of his career designing and deploying farm equipment across the United States. When I asked for advice as I entered the workforce he told me a story.

Three months into retirement, a company in California asked him to fly out and consult with their mechanics on why a piece of equipment wasn’t working. He flew out, spent 5 minutes at the company’s site, drew an “X” in chalk on the equipment, and flew home.  They called the next day and asked what they needed to do. He directed them to the “X”. As simple as an “X” is, it represented years of experience and understanding of the intricacies of the machine and what could potentially go wrong.

He said the moral of the story was, “It’s good to know where to put the X”. Continue reading

ELISPOT Addresses the Complex Questions Arising From Vaccine and Novel Therapies

The accelerated arrival of novel vaccines and immunotherapies into the clinical space spurred the emergence of fields like personalized medicine, immuno-profiling and immuno-monitoring built around increasingly sophisticated testing platforms. Among them, immunoassays in the ELISpot (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot) family are the most frequently used functional assays for single-cell analysis.

ELISPOT ChartUsing 2017 data from Trialtrove (Citeline.com), we found that ELISpot assays were used in more than 160 open clinical trials (Figure 1). The main drivers for this rising clinical usage are:

  • The increased prevalence of infectious and chronic diseases as the population ages in developed countries
  • Extensive use of immunoassays in oncology new vaccines and immunotherapies
  • Technological developments, such as test automation and rapid analysis
  • Growth in the biotechnology sector

Continue reading

Meet Me in 5: Building a Long-Term Career at Covance

Our ongoing “Meet me in 5” series covers 5 people, topics or questions to illustrate how Rob Davie CovanceCovance nurtures exceptional people, provides an energized purpose and enables extraordinary potential in its employees’ careers.   

In this article, Rob Davie, vice president & general manager, global clinical development at Covance, shares his thoughts on career ownership, the benefits of our global culture and our competitive advantage.

  1. No two days are ever the same

Rob Davie didn’t originally plan to stay at Covance for 19 years and counting. He first joined Covance after working with a large pharmaceutical company and planned to eventually return to the pharma industry after gaining knowledge and experience with a global contract research organization (CRO). Continue reading

Can We Expand Companion Diagnostics Beyond Oncology?

The majority of today’s approved companion (and complementary) diagnostics (CDx) support personalized medicine efforts in oncology, a testament to researchers’ growing knowledge regarding the genetic pathways impacted in various cancers. That understanding increases our ability to convert such knowledge of biology into treatments that specifically target disease based on a tumor’s genetic makeup. This has led to significantly improved outcomes for many patients.

But can we leverage the knowledge of the biology of other disease states along with the appropriate technical progress into successful CDx expansion beyond oncology? Given that nearly 50% of all compounds in clinical development are dropped for lack of efficacy, CDx may represent a viable approach to improve this statistic and boost the efficiency of drug development efforts. Promising clinical areas where CDx may play an important role include immunology, rare and orphan diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading