Our BIA member webinars are a great opportunity to hear from industry leaders on a range of topics pertinent to the biotech sector. Our November webinar focussed on recent oncology research and developments in the sector with speakers Dr Richard Goodfellow, co-Chief Executive Officer, Scancell and Geoff Muckle, General Manager, Champions Oncology. We’ve summarised some of the highlights below and don’t forget you can watch a repeat of the webinar above, just click to start playing.

The oncology field continues to evolve with a wide spectrum of advances across diagnostics, vaccines and the development of targeted treatments.

There are two main types of cancer vaccines – those designed to prevent the disease and those intended to treat it. A key challenge in the fight against cancer is that many tumours continue to grow by successfully evading the body’s own natural defence mechanism – the immune system. Vaccines that treat cancer are designed to try and stimulate the immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells.

Dr Richard Goodfellow, Scancell, joined the webinar to discuss their first cancer vaccine, SCIB1, which is being developed for the treatment of melanoma. Their initial results have been highly encouraging and suggest that SCIB1 could have an important future role as first line treatment for patients with resected Stage II or III disease, a key area of unmet medical need for which there are no effective and safe treatment options available.

A further boost to the future of cancer vaccines is their potential to increase the response rate to immune checkpoint inhibitors – one of the most promising recent advances in cancer treatment. Checkpoint inhibitors act to expose cancer cells to the immune system, allowing attack. If combined with a cancer vaccine, which enhances the immune response, this could provide a more effective treatment for late stage cancer.

The revolution of personalised medicine marks another important progression in the future of cancer treatment. Each patient’s tumour is unique, with its own distinct set of molecular changes. Personalised medicine classifies tumours according to this genetic make-up, thereby allowing more targeted and effective treatment.

Speaking on the webinar, Geoff Muckle introduced the role of Champions Oncology in the new era of personalised medicine. In order to test a tumour’s response to available treatments, Champions Oncology have developed a method which replicates a patient’s tumour in a mouse avatar model. Their large cohort of models can also be used during the cancer drug development process to test novel therapies on different tumour types.

For details on upcoming webinars in 2016, keep an eye on our Events page.