July 11, 2022

Perspective: Kobby Essien

Kobby Essien, Director of New Product Planning, shares how his personal experience led him to get involved in the fight against cancer. He now working on the strategy for the commercial diagnostic test that will be used to identify sarcoma patients for treatment.

Tell us about what inspires you in your job as Director of New Product Planning at Adaptimmune

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States with 602k deaths annually1 and 147k in the United Kingdom2. Having lost my mother to cancer nine years ago, these numbers are not abstract, and I value the opportunity to do my little part to ensure that that one day, cancer will not be the scourge that it is now. I am excited to be a part of a company working to reduce the morbidity and mortality of cancer. In my role in the Commercial Department, I particularly enjoy learning about Adaptimmune’s science and innovations, thinking about what it would take to turn them into differentiated products, and developing strategy and tactics so that our future products will be seamlessly available to patients and physicians

July is sarcoma awareness month – what do you think we should all be aware of when it comes to this cancer?

While synovial sarcoma is rare, making up only 5-10% of soft tissue sarcomas, it presents significant emotional and physical burdens to patients and caregivers. While some patients may be cancer-free after surgery, it is common for patients to go through several taxing cycles of recurrence, surgery and therapeutic treatment over many years. Survival is challenging, especially for patients with metastatic disease. Only 5% of patients with distant metastases live five years after diagnosis. A one-time treatment that can induce a durable response would be a life-changing option for these patients

What is your role in the BLA and commercialization process? Why is this important?

I wear multiple hats across several of Adaptimmune’s programs, but I am a part of the two afami-cel workstreams.

I am collaborating with a team of colleagues to develop the biomarker testing strategy for afami-cel. For a patient to be eligible for afami-cel, that patient needs to test positive for one of several human leukocyte antigens (HLAs) and for a peptide called MAGE-A4. We are designing the plan for testing in the commercial setting and thinking about the tactics and programs needed to make it as easy as possible for as many appropriate synovial sarcoma patients as possible to be tested. If patients are not identified by testing, they cannot start on afami-cel.

Additionally, I am working with my Commercial colleagues on afami-cel’s forecast. Leveraging epidemiology data, knowledge of synovial sarcoma’s disease course, and physician and patient insights we are developing estimates of the number of patients we expect to be treated with afami-cel. Beyond the financial implications for the company, the forecast is important for other purposes like manufacturing planning, and marketing strategy and execution.