The First Step Toward a Targeted Approach
Cancer is the most formidable healthcare challenge of our time. The most heavily invested area of drug development is in the search for new agents to treat cancer. There may be hundreds of mutations in every tumor, and determining the ones that drive disease progression is the first step toward a targeted approach. Finding drugs that target the mutations or proteins that arise as a result of them is high priority.
Finding Effective Cancer Therapies
As Hanahan and Weinberg point out in their famous “Hallmarks of Cancer,”* the ability of a drug to interfere with any of these processes resulting in a therapeutic effect (ie, increased PFS or OS), represents a validation of the hallmark’s capability to promote disease.
Unfortunately each of these hallmarks represents a property with redundant pathways within the cancer cell which ultimately may need to be shut down in order to slow or reverse disease progression.
The ability of cancer cells to adapt to the deleterious effects of agents targeted to specific hallmark processes makes finding effective therapies even more difficult.
So, what does all of this mean for drug developers and why are we discussing it here?
Each hallmark represents a rich vein of opportunity for biotech and pharma companies to search for effective therapeutics, and indeed, this is exactly what is happening in the world of drug development. There are dozens, if not hundreds of new agents in the pipeline targeted to each of these hallmarks, with more on the way.
It is, therefore, incumbent upon biotech companies who are hoping to win approval of their drugs to understand where their drug will fit into the burgeoning competitive landscape of similar drugs; not only how they will compete with drugs of similar MOA, but also how they will compete with other kinds of agents seeking to affect any of the hallmark processes.
In addition, as new agents come to market, there is the issue of treatment algorithm: When to use which drug regimen can make or break a promising therapeutic.
Clinical trial data is the basis of every claim that pharma marketers can make regarding the efficacy of their drugs. It is crucial to understand this data to position your own drug against a background of similar competitors.
Two Labs’ oncology team can provide deep insight into the complex, rapidly changing landscape of competing MOAs and therapeutic approaches for all tumor types: those on the market now, and those in the pipeline.
*D Hanahan and RA Weinberg, Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation, Cell – 4 March 2011 (Vol. 144, Issue 5, pp. 646-674)