Dr. Williams is the President and CEO of BriaCell Corporation, where he has shepherded Bria-IMT™ into the clinic, established positive proof-of-concept, forged a collaboration with Incyte for novel combinations and coordinated the development of an off-the-shelf personalized approach to cancer immunotherapy. While at Incyte Corporation as Head of Exploratory Development, he brought numerous molecules into the clinic and established proof of concept in several disease areas. At GlaxoSmithKline he worked to bring several molecules into the clinic, ran a biomarker laboratory and spearheaded initiatives to utilize emerging technologies in drug development. At the University of Pennsylvania, he developed novel methods of bioactive peptide design, ran a major research program in receptor biology, and was able to bring novel therapies into the clinic. He has been involved in several successful new drug applications, including drugs for lymphoma, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, nausea and vomiting, myelofibrosis and polycythemia vera.
Marketsandmarkets had this fortunate opportunity to pick his brain on the newfound developments in the areans of Immuno-oncology. Their own research and learnings in the field, their presentation at the Conference their take on the conference program.
Question: What are the recent advances in the immune-oncology and current challenges that need immediate attention?
The recent advances include combination immunotherapy with the potential to markedly boost the immune responses to the cancer in a targeted way while alleviating immune suppression. This, along with personalized approaches, will propel the industry going forward. Immediate challenges are the uptick in later stage cancer we will be seeing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many patients avoided seeing their physicians during the pandemic, missed mammogram appointments and other similar screening appointments, and we can expect an uptick in later stage cancers. Immunotherapies that work in later stages are needed to address this need.
Question: What is the key take away point from your presentation topic which will help in building the knowledge base of attendees?
We have an immunotherapy approach based on cancer cell lines that act also as antigen presenting cells. These have been used in breast cancer to immunize patients and produce high levels of clinical benefit especially in patients who match the cell line at HLA loci, which is consistent with our mechanism of action. Based on these observations, we have genetically engineered our cell line to express 15 different HLA types (expressed in 4 cell lines) which will allow us to match >99% of the patient population. This provides the opportunity to personalize our cellular immunotherapy but take advantage of the off-the-shelf nature of our technology. This is also being extended into non-small cell lung cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma.
Dr. William Williams is our esteemed speaker at 4th Annual MarketsandMarkets Next Gen Immuno-Oncology Virtual Congress-US Edition to be held on 28th- 30th June 2021.. He will be presenting on the Day 2 of the conference on the topic – ‘Personalized, off-the-shelf cellular immunotherapy for cancer.’