Beyond Biotech podcast 61 – Blood Cancer Awareness Month

blood cancer

On this week’s podcast, to recognize Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we have a conversation with Affimed’s CMO, Andreas Harstrick, to talk about blood cancers, and what Affimed is doing to tackle blood cancers.

One of the main challenges in treating blood cancers is the limited options for therapeutic intervention. Treatment relies primarily on chemotherapy, which is often associated with high toxicity and limited duration of response. Most other approaches to treating hematologic tumors target the adaptive immune system, neglecting the importance of innate immunity. However, harnessing the body’s first line of response could be an important gateway to treating these cancers, which could drastically lower side effects and overcome immune evasion by cancers, especially in refractory or relapsed patients. 

Approaches based on the innate immune system mainly utilize NK (natural killer) cells. Innate Pharma, Dragonfly Therapeutics, and Affimed are among the biotech companies directing NK cells to tumors with the help of bi- or multi-specific antibodies. 

Affimed has completed a phase 2 trial with its innate cell engager (ICE), AFM13. To address the fact that cancer patients often lack a functional immune system, Affimed has combined its ICE approach with PD-1 inhibitors or allogeneic cord blood-derived NK cells to further increase the potential success of its treatments. 

Initial results from an exploratory study together with MD Anderson have already provided encouraging data with relapsed or refractory patients that previously exhausted all treatment options showing a complete response rate of 71% when treated with AFM13 precomplexed with cord blood-derived NK cells.

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