Pharmaprojects reveals that biotechnology appears to be the key to the future of cancer therapy

Richmond, United Kingdom, 7th October 2003

New figures released today by Pharmaprojects show that a quarter of all anticancer therapies in development are based on biotechnology.

Pharmaprojects, the leading source of worldwide business-critical intelligence on drugs in R&D, analysed the number of biotechnology products under development worldwide for the treatment of cancer by year. The trend is striking. The number of products in development was steady between 1995 and 1999. However, in just the four years from 2000, the number of research products has gone from just over 40 to over 140.

Pharmaprojects has been tracking every drug in development since 1980. This, combined with its very strict editorial policy, means that these figures are among the most accurate ever reported, and reveal the massive importance of the biotechnology sector in the fight against cancer.

Andrew Marshall, Editor of Nature Biotechnology says, “Cancer treatments have traditionally been dominated by chemotherapeutics often associated with serious side-effects and drug resistance. The promise of many biotechnology treatments is that they can provide therapeutic efficacy with reduced toxicity, with the potential to perhaps even reduce the likelihood of drug resistance. Currently, there are more experimental therapies under development in cancer than in any other indication. Already molecular medicine has provided small molecules (e.g., Gleevec) and monoclonal antibodies (e.g., Herceptin) against new targets in cancer that are showing unprecedented efficacy in patients.�

The trend towards biotech-based anticancers is clear, but biotech is an area that is as risky as it is potentially rewarding. Recent news that a gene-based ‘miracle cure’ therapy for the fatal ‘bubble baby’ syndrome of children born without immune systems was associated with increased incidence of leukaemia is a powerful example of how risky biotech trials can be. Further, many industry analysts say that the FDA, already embarrassed at having to recall some widely-used drugs after finding dangerous side-effects, has become more cautious in approving biotech-based therapies.

These issues cast huge shadows over biotech in general and gene therapies in particular. Ian Lloyd, Managing Editor of Pharmaprojects says, “Although a new paradigm in drug development has not yet been created, Pharmaprojects’ figures clearly show that pharmaceutical companies around the world have enough confidence in biotech-based anticancer therapies to invest the vast sums involved in creating new drugs�. This faith is already showing tangible rewards. Pharmaprojects recently reported positive results from Geron’s Phase I trial of its cancer vaccine, in which the majority of patients showed a significant immune response. Biotech may be an industry troubled by past failures, but it has also had some stunning successes. The unprecedented level of activity in the sector means we will undoubtedly see many more.

Coinciding with the release of this analysis, Pharmaprojects will be attending a Management Forum symposium on novel approaches for the treatment of cancer to be held in London on the 8-9th October. Delegates will hear from a panel of international experts that new biotech-based cancer treatments could be the key to the future of cancer treatment.

About Pharmaprojects

Pharmaprojects, the leading database tracking pharmaceutical development from early preclinical study through to launch or discontinuation, has 23 years’ experience as an
information provider to the industry. Pharmaprojects uses a fully searchable application that allows you to pinpoint the specific information you are looking for, whether it be comprehensive drug profiles, a competitor’s pipeline or licensing opportunities. Pharmaprojects is available monthly on the Web and via CD-ROM format; the data is also accessible weekly via online hosts PJB Publications, Dialog and Datastar, Ovid Technologies and STN International.

About PJB Publications

PJB Publications, established in 1976, is an independent publishing company of business-to-business information. Specialist areas of knowledge include pharmaceuticals on which it publishes the twice-weekly newsletter Scrip, medical devices and diagnostics, biotechnology, veterinary products, crop protection, agribusiness, clinical research and regulatory affairs.

For editorial information: Ian Lloyd, Managing Editor Pharmaprojects Telephone +44 (0) 20 8332 8877 E-mail [email protected] Websites Release URL