On today’s show we welcome Dr. Daniel Chen MD PhD, formerly Vice President, Global Head of Cancer Immunotherapy at Genentech/Roche and now Chief Medical Officer at IGM Biosciences to continue our current exploration of immunotherapy in the fight against cancer. In April we spoke to Charles Graeber, author of The Breakthrough, and today we are very lucky to welcome Dr. Chen, one of the leading pioneers of immunotherapy from Charles’ book. In the show he furthers our understanding of the state of cancer immunotherapy and its recent advancements. Dr. Chen expertly balances the excitement and passion around the amazing leaps that have been made with a keen sense of purpose and caution around over playing the hand medicine has currently been dealt. We chat about Dr. Chen’s own experience in the field over the last 20 years and what it has meant in the last decade to bring the latest drugs to market. Our guest unpacks a host of the technical terms and concepts, so that even the most uninitiated can grasp the basics of immunotherapy for cancer. We go on to talk about which forms of cancer are seeing the best results in response to immunotherapy and why, what the next few years may look like and the important role that big data, machine learning and AI can play in the progress we so badly need. For all this and more be sure to tune into our show today!
Key Points From This Episode:
- A quick overview of today’s episode.
- The evolution of immunotherapy in the fight against cancer.
- The period from 1993 to 2010 before immunotherapy came to the fore.
- Stages in the process of bringing immunotherapy drugs to market.
- Why immunotherapy is so effective in highly mutated forms of cancer.
- Comparing the results from before and after the advancerment made in 2010.
- Where to go with immunotherapy from here?
- The necessary advances in the field to improve upon the number of patients “cured”.
- The contrast between human science, big data and machine learning.
- The treatment of solid tumors with these therapies.
- Tools that will be fundamental to developing the next generation of treatments.
- Considering the role of the gut and the microbiome.
- Increasing amounts of scientists and students in the immunotherapy field.
- Chen’s time at Genentech and Roche and his recent move to IGM.
- The importance of advancements in our understanding of checkpoint inhibitors.
- China’s role in this field of therapy and thinking about the future, and it’s acceleration in moving new approaches into the clinic, compared to previous development timelines.
- Considering the role of CRISPR in human therapeutics.
- Exercising caution in moving forward in these unchartered territories.
“The beauty of the human immune system is the human immune system is complex, it’s dynamic. It can grow and look for different things that are wrong about those cancer cells and eliminate them.” — [0:07:01]
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