The final instalment of Total Biopharma’s interviews with leaders of the Antibody space is with Steve Sazinsky, Senior Scientist of Jounce Therapeutics. Following trend, the interview with Steve Sazinksy details his opinions on the latest developments and challenges that face the industry in the foreseeable future. A key member of the speaker faculty of the European Antibody Congress 2014, Sazinsky will delve further into his thoughts on antibodies in a panel discussion on strengthening immune response through a combination of approaches for antibody immunotherapy. Read on for an exclusive with Sazinky.
What do you think is going to be the biggest ‘game changer’ in this sector in the next 18 months – whether it be new product approvals, ground-breaking research or the uptake of new technologies?
The biggest game changer in this sector is going to be the approval of PD1 directed antibodies for immune checkpoint inhibition. Targeting this pathway is already changing how we view what will be standard of care in multiple cancer indications, and I think we’ll see that oncology drug discovery and development will put a large emphasis on thinking about agents that will combine best with this pathway as well as identifying mechanisms under which checkpoint inhibition doesn’t drive immune response.
Are there any new technology platforms that you’re watching closely, the implementation of which you think could have a big impact on your work, or the wider antibody space?
This isn’t a new technology platform per se anymore, but I think the application and implementation of some of the advances in synthetic biology and DNA sequencing towards antibody discovery is exciting. The ability to rapidly and easily generate multiple constructs in parallel is very powerful for testing hypotheses, as well as the ability to look at and explore more of the diversity of antibody repertoires from libraries and immunized animals.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to overcome in the development of antibodies for immune system modulation?
I see understanding the patient populations that don’t respond to checkpoint inhibition as the biggest challenge to overcome in the development of antibodies for immune system modulation. It’s a system with complex biology and regulation, with multiple cell types and interactions, and developing really good hypotheses about these non-responders, as well as potential toxicities, will be essential for antibody development in this area.
We see that there are a lot of antibodies and bispecifics for immune system modulation in development at present, with a few close to seeking regulatory approval. What do you think the overall impact of getting these therapies to market will be – what’s the potential?
The impact of getting antibodies for immune system modulation to the market will be huge. These are therapies that, in a fraction of patients, provide durable responses, which is quite inspiring. I think that we’ll see that over time immunomodulatory agents will become the standard of care in many oncology indications, and that there’ll be a growing focus on thinking about how both current and new agents can best combine with some of these therapies to benefit an even greater patient population.
To hear from other leaders within the antibody space, have a read of our interviews with Georg Fey, CSO of SpectraMab and Mark Chiu, Associate Director of Janssen Research & Development LLC. And for more detailed opinions from the antibody industry leaders, download the brochure of the European Antibody Congress 2014 to find out the key topics up for discussion.