“ Fifteen years ago, we jumped for joy at the announcement of even a single new targeted therapy or immunotherapy. Today, there are dozens presented at each congress., rejoices Professor Jean-Yves Blay. Back from ASCO, the world high mass of oncology, which was held from June 3 to 7 in Chicago, the director general of the Léon-Bérard center, in Lyon, and president of Unicancer does not sulk his pleasure: “There is still a lot to discover to better care for patients, but it is impressive to see all the efforts and progress made. »
For two decades, the fight against cancer, the leading cause of premature death in France, which kills nearly 360,000 women and men in France each year, has been undergoing a revolution thanks to the ferment of academic and industrial research. The figures testify to this: between 2002 and 2021, more than two hundred new active anti-cancer substances have obtained commercial approval worldwide, more than half of them in the last five years alone, calculates the Iqvia Institute.
This boiling is partly due to the renewed interest of pharmaceutical manufacturers in this market, the value of which continues to grow (in 2021, its turnover reached 176 billion euros), but also to the progress made in understanding the cancer functioning mechanisms.
“Convergence of science, technology and data”
These scientific advances have led to the arrival of so-called precision medicine, of which targeted therapies, in full swing, are one of the armed arms. The idea is simple: adapt the treatment of each patient to the specific characteristics of his tumor so that it is as effective as possible. Thus, a patient treated, for example, for lung cancer will be prescribed drugs different from the standard treatments for this type of cancer, depending on the gene mutation that he presents.
Targeted therapies are more effective and cause fewer side effects in patients than conventional chemotherapy treatments
Enough to whet the appetite of Big Pharma, many of which have taken the turn of oncology in recent years, like the British AstraZeneca. With nearly a hundred publications unveiled at ASCO, one of which on breast cancer treatment was one of the highlights of this 2022 edition, the laboratory has made oncology its main hobbyhorse. “ We are in unprecedented times. The convergence of science, technology and data will allow us to offer patients therapies that go beyond anything we have ever imagined. », observes David Fredrickson, executive vice president in charge of the oncology division of AstraZeneca.
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