The absolute number of new cases of cancer has almost doubled since the early 1970s in Germany. However, the mortality caused by cancer in Germany, as in most other wealthy countries, has declined significantly. This is mainly due to progress in therapy and probably also in early detection .
Every year, the global pharmaceutical industry invests billions in order to push this therapeutic improvment forward and successfully combat increasing resistance in tumor patients. An important step here was, for example, the development of immuncheckpoint inhibitors, such as Pembrolizumab / Keytruda developed by Merck / MSD (PD-1 inhibitor) .
Currently, mainly tumors with a high mutation burden and with T cells that have already entered the tumor respond to checkpoint inhibitors – they are effective in up to 30% of this patient population . Therefore, there is a dedicated search for combination therapies that induce a T cell response targeting cancer cells. Researchers have found that this low response rate may be due, among other things, to the influx of neutrophils. The cells attracted by the stressed tumor nullify the effects of immuno-checkpoint inhibitors by repressing T cells. As cause of the unexpected effect of neutrophils, the researchers determined neurotransmitters, which the cancer releases when T lymphocytes attack. The transmitters are normally thought to control excessive immune reactions. Researchers have observed that the higher the serum concentration of the c-Met ligand, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), was in patients, the less responsive to checkpoint inhibitor therapies they were. Consequently, they suspect that HGF is needed for the usually circulating neutrophils to infiltrate the lymph nodes and the T-cell-targeted tumor .
Meanwhile, the Novartis AG can look forward to the fact that its Phase II lung cancer drug Capmatinib is now in for a long career. The inhibition of their c-met inhibitor not only slows down non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), but also the immigration of mentioned immunosuppressive neutrophils into tumor areals .
The drug has already re-established the efficacy of T-cell therapies in vivo and is therefore promising to be administered as a combination therapy in the future and to assert itself in the overheated market for cancer immunotherapies .
Here you can find an interesting interview with one of our Consultants on the subject of market research within pharmaceutical industry.
If you have any further queries, feel free to contact our team.
1. Robert Koch Institute (ZfKD): „Bericht zum Krebsgeschehen in Deutschland 2016“, last opened on 02/16/2018
2. http://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2016/pembrolizumab-merkel-cell, last opened on 02/16/2018
3. http://transkript.de/news/natuerliche-killer-der-t-zell-antwort.html, last opened on 02/16/2018
4. Immunity, doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2017.09.012, last opened on 03/06/2018