Interview with Daniel Chen of IGM Biosciences

Dan is Chief Medical Officer at IGM Biosciences, focused on the development of novel engineered therapeutics. Prior to IGM, he was Vice President, Global Head of Cancer Immunotherapy in Development at Genentech/Roche, contributing to over 20 cancer immunotherapy programs. He is currently co-chair of the Cancer Immunotherapy Committee, an arm of the Cancer Research Institute (CRI), and serves on the Board of Directors for the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). His publications include the often referenced Chen and Mellman manuscripts, “Elements of cancer immunity and the cancer-immune set point” and “Oncology meets Immunology: the Cancer-Immunity Cycle.” Read his full bio.

Interview with Daniel Chen of IGM Biosciences

Q: Checkpoint inhibitors, particularly with PD-L1/PD-1 targeting agents, have benefited a broad range of patients with cancer. How will we improve on this?

A: It’s true that PD-L1/PD-1 inhibitors have led to durable responses in a subset of patients, and survival benefit in many of the patients treated- either as monotherapy or combination. The emergence of this data has also helped to define why some patients respond or benefit more than others- and may help us think about how to develop the next generation of cancer immunotherapeutics. One of the key pieces of data that has emerged is that all of human cancer can largely be broken down into three major phenotypes in terms of how they interact with the human immune system. Inflamed cancers are different from Immune Excluded and Immune Desert cancers. Each of these phenotypes likely require different therapeutic strategies in terms of treatment. Next generation cancer immunotherapies and cancer immunotherapy regimens will have to effectively address these different biologies.

Q: How will cancer immunotherapeutics look different in the future?

A: Single agent and combination Cancer Immunotherapy with PD-L1/PD-1 inhibitors have generated durable responses in a subset of patients and a survival benefit in a broad group of patients suffering from terminal cancers. However, the next generation of cancer immunotherapeutics have not yet led to a similar therapeutic impact, potentially supporting the complexity and highly regulatred nature of the human immune system. However, advances in engineered therapeutics, from cellular therapy to highly modified multispecifc molecules, is enabling novel methods to modulating biology and the immune system to eradict cancer. As these technologies advance, they provide an opportunity to transform the approaches to cancer immunotherapy and health care in general.