IO Biomarkers: Where Do We Stand In 2017?
Survey of recent literature shows breadth and quality of early research activity aimed at developing biomarkers to predict response to PD-1 and CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitors.
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Merck's PD-1 inhibitor holds the first cancer indication based on biomarkers rather than tumor location. The most significant market will be colorectal cancer, but Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo is pending for the same subgroup and Roche's Tecentriq could eventually gain a broader approval.
Immuno-oncology’s challenge is to orchestrate a biomarker program in a highly competitive drug development landscape knowing that prior to having significant clinical experience, the program is unlikely to yield the kinds of binary measurements used to define and select a patient population for a targeted therapy.
With Keytruda, Merck has shown it has the wherewithal to compete in immuno-oncology against more experienced rivals. Now, as management outlined at ASCO, the company is digging its heels into the field, studying Keytruda in 30 tumor types and evaluating other early stage assets.