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1102 Jose Baselga Q&A
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Product Development

José Baselga on how new modalities and biomarkers are shaping AZ’s oncology strategy

AZ’s oncology R&D head identifies priority technologies, targets and combination strategies

Almost two years in, AZ’s oncology R&D head identifies priority  technologies, targets and combination strategies.

Oct 30, 2020 | 10:50 PM GMT

AstraZeneca’s oncology R&D chief José Baselga sees the pharma’s push into ADCs as prologue for its quiet move into cell therapies, as the company builds up a stable of new modalities and targets in its cancer pipeline. He also sees ways for biomarkers to open up new treatable phases of disease. 

Baselga joined AstraZeneca plc (LSE:AZN; NASDAQ:AZN) as EVP of research & development, oncology amid its restructuring in early 2019, which saw the pharma dissolve its MedImmune biologics unit and bring early- and late-stage development under the same roof for its two new divisions: Biopharmaceuticals and Oncology. Mene Pangalos heads the BioPharma unit as EVP of R&D, which is driving AZ’s COVID-19 response, including its hotly anticipated vaccine.

In a conversation with BioCentury, Baselga said ADCs are taking off, having reached a point where enough is known to properly design them to meet a specified goal. He also thinks that the evidence is strong for cell therapies in solid tumors, and sees lessons translating between the two modalities

Baselga said his passion lies in selective estrogen receptors (SERTs) and believes the estrogen receptor (ER) has supplanted HER2 as the rate-limiting step in breast cancer.

He thinks that combinations strategies in cancer need to be more carefully thought through than has been the case in the industry, and plans for AZ to vet its options

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