▎WuXi AppTec Content Team Editor
Cancer: a major challenge to global health
Cancer is one of the leading causes of disease and death in the world, and as the population ages, the global cancer burden will continue to increase, the AACR report states, By 2040 In 2019, the total number of cancer patients worldwide will reach about 28 million, and an estimated 16.2 million patients will die from it.
While most cancers occur in older adults, the AACR report also points to the burden of cancer among young adults. According to statistics in 2019, approximately 1.19 million cancer cases occurred in young adults aged 15-39 and caused 396,000 deaths.
Image source: AACR official website
How can I better prevent cancer?
Studies have shown that more than 40% of cancer cases are attributable to preventable factors, including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and obesity . In addition, vaccination against HPV and hepatitis B, as well as reducing UV exposure, can reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Understanding these risk factors can enhance cancer prevention approaches.
Of these, smoking remains the number one preventable cause of cancer, and lung cancer is associated with 17 other cancer types. Recent studies show that adults who smoke are three times more likely to die from cancer than non-smokers. The good news is that smoking cessation at any age can reduce cancer incidence and related deaths.
Additionally, nearly 20% of new cancer cases and 16% of cancer deaths among U.S. adults can be attributed to being overweight, unhealthy diet, inactivity, and alcohol use . Adults who were overweight or obese had an increased risk of 15 cancers, while physical activity was associated with a lower risk of 9 cancers.
▲Types of obesity-related cancers (red) and exercise-reduced cancers (blue) (Image source: AACR website)
Innovative treatments change patients’ lives
With the concerted efforts of all members of the biopharmaceutical ecosystem, advances in clinical cancer care are extending and improving patients’ lives around the world. This report highlights a total of 8 innovative anti-cancer therapies approved by the US FDA from August 2021 to the end of July 2022, and 10 anti-cancer therapies approved to expand the treatment of cancer types.
▲August 2021-July 2022 FDA-approved anticancer therapy (Image source: AACR official website)
Among them,targeted therapy can more precisely target the cancer cells in a tumor, making the treatment more effective and less toxic to healthy tissue. Moreover, these targeted therapies provide a powerful means of treating rare cancers. Rare cancers represent a significant public health challenge as rare cancers account for a quarter of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), despite their low incidence. .
For example, Welireg (belzutifan), a hypoxia-inducible factor inhibitor approved by the FDA in August 2021, was approved for the treatment of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) Disease-related cancers. VHL is a rare genetic disorder that abnormally activates hypoxia-inducible factor-2α (HIF-2α) in cancer patients. The HIF-2α factor thus accumulates in patients and leads to the formation of benign and malignant tumors.
In the treatment of blood cancers, October 2021, FDA approved
▲The development process of CML targeted therapy (image source: AACR official website)
In immunotherapy, decades of scientific breakthroughs have made immunotherapy one of the mainstays of cancer treatment. As of July 2022, 9 immune checkpoint inhibitors have been approved by the FDA to treat multiple cancer types. In 2022,
First immune checkpoint inhibitor targeting LAG-3
relatlimab received FDA approval, the first innovative immunotherapy approved for a new immune checkpoint protein in nearly 10 years.
▲A milestone in the development of immune checkpoint inhibitors (Image source: AACR official website)
AACR report in particular highlights the potential of immune checkpoint inhibitors in the early stages of cancer. For example, in some patients with early-stage lung cancer, the PD-1 antibody nivolumab combined with chemotherapy prior to surgical resection increased the proportion of patients with no evidence of cancer in the resected tissue compared to a control group consisting of chemotherapy and placebo11 times.
In a small phase 2 clinical trial, 12 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer with defective mismatch repair (dMMR) received complete treatment with the PD-1 antibody dostarlimab remission and remained cancer-free for more than 2 years without surgical resection or subsequent chemoradiation.
It is worth mentioning that not all patients benefit from immune checkpoint inhibitors, so scientists continue to develop innovative immunotherapies that use other methods to stimulate immune cells Anticancer response. For example, approved earlier this year
is the first approved T cell receptor (TCR) therapy. It is a bispecific fusion protein that can mimic the function of TCR, recognize the gp100 antigen on the tumor surface, and activate the anticancer response of T cells by binding to the CD3 receptor on the surface of T cells.
▲How Kimmtrak works (Image source: AACR official website)
CAR-T therapy modifies the body’s T cells, turning them into cell therapy that recognizes and kills tumors. As of July 2022, the US FDA has approved 6 CAR-T therapies, including Abecma approved in 2021 and CAR-T approved in 2022
is an approved CAR-T therapy for multiple myeloma.
New technologies to drive future cancer advances
The report states that future progress in the fight against cancer will require collaboration on a national and international scale. Scientific and technological innovation driven by interdisciplinary collaboration promises to revolutionize patient care. New technologies that are expected to further advance cancer science research include:
CRISPR-Cas9 system: This revolutionary gene editing method not only allows researchers to precisely modify the genome, study the impact on cell function, but also in Cell therapy has broad prospects
Targeted protein degradation therapy: This type of therapy can help researchers degrade disease-related proteins, and in cancer, it can be used to target traditional small Targets that are difficult to target by molecular drugs, such as p53, STAT3, RAS, MYC and other proteins.
spatial transcriptomics: This technique enables the analysis of gene expression profiles of tissue samples at the single-cell level to map tumors in detail heterogeneity. It can be used to predict the evolution of tumors and to discover complex interactions between tumors and other cells.
Deconvolution Phenotypic Screens: This strategy allows researchers to discover and design based on a comprehensive assessment of changes in entire biological pathways, rather than a single target New anticancer therapy.
▲New technology driving anti-cancer progress (Photo source: AACR official website)
WuXi AppTec provides integrated, end-to-end new drug R&D and production services for the global biopharmaceutical industry, covering chemical drug R&D and production, biological research, preclinical testing and clinical trials R&D, cell and gene therapy R&D, testing and production. If you have relevant business needs, please click the picture below to fill in the specific information.