The new thinking going into early-stage cancer studies

NEW YORK - The handbook prepared for this year's BIO CEO & Investor Conference in New York includes a chart on presenting companies' stock performance over the past year. In many cases, these charts look like a topographical map of the Andes, full of peaks and valleys and more than a few deadly price cliffs. It's a handy reminder of just how turbulent this business is; when a single data point can erase millions in equity value or make instant millionaires.

I'll be taking a couple of days to take a tour of this mountainous terrain, with some special stops to view the potential of several high-profile public biotechs I've been keeping an eye on. In the meantime, I wanted to alert you to an upcoming webinar series I'll be moderating on early-stage cancer drug development. We've gathered together a group of clinical trial experts to examine several key issues around Phase I cancer trials.

The first webinar--sponsored by Covance--focuses on protocol design for a Phase I cancer study, looking at the ways in which targeted drugs are changing the way clinical executives are designing and executing these studies. I'll be discussing this topic with Hagop Youssoufian, M.D. chief medical officer, ImClone; Jesus Gomez-Navarro, VP, Oncology Clinical Research, Millennium/Takeda; Langdon Miller, executive VP, Research and Development, Calistoga Pharmaceuticals; and Al Blunt, senior medical director for Covance.

Our second webinar looks at the role of translational medicine in early-phase oncology drug development. For that conversation we've invited Murray Robinson, PhD, senior VP, translational medicine at AVEO; Sam Blackman, director in the Oncology Early Development Unit, GlaxoSmithKline; Antoni Ribas, MD, an investigator at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center; and Mark Parrish, senior manager, Covance. We're also in the planning stages for a third webinar on cancer trials we'll be hosting in April.

Early-stage cancer drug development has undergone some major changes in recent years as investigators work to get more out of Phase I than ever before. The lessons they've learned offer some valuable insights on clinical trial efficiency. If you're directly engaged in drug development, this is one webinar series you won't want to miss. If you have any ideas on what you'd like to see us discuss, drop me a line. In the meantime, go here to register for the Phase I cancer study webinar and here for our program on translational medicine. - John Carroll