Despite widespread clinical trial delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, many oncology biotechs have been able to continue their fight against cancer. With advances in CAR T-cell therapies, cancer vaccines, RNA drugs, and more, European companies held a strong presence at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) this year.
The huge ASCO conference has normally been held in Chicago, USA, but this changed in 2020. Due to the ongoing threat of Covid-19, the organizers of the conference took the unusual step of decreasing its length to three days instead of five days and holding it online.
The risks of transmitting Covid-19 to vulnerable patients has led to obstacles for companies testing cancer treatments in clinical trials. For example, regulators tend to allow the continuation of many cancer trials such as blood cancer, but the risk of infection by Covid-19 can be deadly for patients with weakened immune systems. In spite of the trying circumstances, the crop of cancer research at ASCO was still impressive to behold.
New forms of CAR T-cell immunotherapy emerging
As usual, big pharma companies such as AstraZeneca, Takeda, and Janssen dominated the proceedings. One of the standout presentations was about the phase Ib part of a phase Ib/II trial of Janssen’s CAR T-cell immunotherapy,