Genentech oncology exec moves to Guardant to address cancer even earlier through diagnostics

The new chief medical officer at Guardant Health is taking a step back—a step back in the typical cancer journey, that is, moving to diagnostics from oncology drug development and medical affairs.

Craig Eagle, M.D., joins Guardant after years in medical affairs and clinical drug development at pharma companies. He most recently headed oncology medical affairs at Roche's Genentech division, and before that spent 19 years at Pfizer, including a stint as global head of its oncology medical and outcomes group.

Guardant, on the other hand, makes liquid biopsy tests, which use blood samples to provide genetic information about tumors. It now counts four commercially launched tests, including three for advanced-stage cancers and one for early-stage patients.

Plus, Guardant has established partnerships with pharma companies, including AstraZeneca and Amgen, for diagnostics connected to treatments. It recently struck a deal with Daiichi Sankyo to study its Guardant360 CDx assay as a companion diagnostic for Enhertu.

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Eagle was born in Australia and graduated from medical school in Sydney, working there and developing a focus in hematology and oncology. He joined Pfizer in Australia to oversee medical programs in Australia and New Zealand before moving to the U.S.

“From my point of view, I was living the dream of what I wanted to do, and that was to help people with cancer,” he said. “I ended up heading up various medical and drug development teams looking at new therapies and new ways of looking at cancer.”

At Pfizer New York, he served as the global head of medical and outcomes group and led worldwide development of several drugs, including Aromasin and Mylotarg to treat cancer as well arthritis med Celebrex and blood thinner Fragmin. More recently, he was involved with development, execution and launch of cancer medicines Xalkori, Vizimpro and Ibrance at Pfizer and Tecentriq, Phesgo and Erivedge at Roche.

Now, at Guardant, his focus is on, "how do we get as much information and as much data about the patient and their cancer to help us decide what the best choices are for that patient to go through their journey with cancer?”

He currently serves on the boards for both Generex Biotechnology and NuGenerex Immuno-Oncology.

While Guardant and other industry efforts are helping raise awareness of precision medicine—and companion diagnostics are on the rise—there is still a need, and challenge, for communication and education, Eagle said.

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A variety of audiences—payers, regulators, doctors, patients—need to be addressed, and so do gaps that can slow precision diagnostic adoption. Some of those include continuing to advance oncology blood testing, raising awareness of the tests and increasing reimbursement.

“We’re targeting our education programs, information and research based on the audience need,” he said.

“Payers have a different need than regulators. Regulators have different needs from oncologists. Oncologists have different needs than primary care physicians, and so on," Eagle added. "So we are bringing the same material, but in a way that addresses the perspective and needs of each.”