By Peter Adamson, Global Head, Oncology Development, Pediatric Innovation, Sanofi
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and this year one cannot help but reflect upon the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on patients with lung cancer. In fact, nearly 60 percent of patients undergoing lung cancer treatment have experienced delays in treatment due to the pandemic, according to a recent JAMA Oncology study. These care interruptions, coupled with increased susceptibility to Covid-19, means that people with lung cancer have unfortunately been at significantly increased risk during these past months.
Despite important breakthroughs in research and treatment, lung cancer remains a deadly disease for many. Through advances in understanding disease biology, we’re learning more about the pathogenesis of lung cancer and mechanisms of resistance to current treatments. As our scientific understanding of lung cancer increases, how we categorize such tumors also changes. For the most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which represents 85% of lung cancers, an increasing number of subtypes are being recognized, with each subtype impacting treatment recommendations.
Sanofi is prioritizing its development efforts on innovative therapies aimed at patients with lung cancer who have the highest unmet need. Our cutting-edge pipeline technologies utilize a broad range of molecular and immunotherapy platforms including monoclonal antibodies, mRNA and antibody drug conjugates. As our oncology pipeline grows, we are moving to develop our medicines as both stand-alone treatments and more commonly in combination with other therapies with the hope of fully maximizing the potential impact of treatment.
We continue to extend our scientific programs to foster faster data-driven research and treatment decisions in our clinical programs. Our recent collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, for example, will enable us to better identify combinations, as well as potential new treatment targets, using MD Anderson’s impressive laboratory and clinical trial capabilities.
Given the current barriers to care for cancer patients due to possible risk of exposure to Covid-19, Sanofi has been committed to working with providers to develop a model that safely brings investigated treatment to clinical trial patients and allows remote monitoring to make sure our lung cancer studies can continue without interruption. This unprecedented challenge of the pandemic has put a new spotlight on the importance of timely, uninterrupted care for patients this Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Numerous Sanofi colleagues are working hard to deliver patient-focused solutions that will better allow us to continue our research and development. Afterall, innovation is what drives the biopharmaceutical industry to move forward and it allows us to develop new solutions to improve patient’s lives in ways we could never have imagined. We are deeply grateful to the many patients who have and continue to participate in our lung cancer research programs to drive this innovation forward. It is for and because of our patients that we remain as committed as ever to improving cancer care and innovating new approaches that will help them live longer, better lives.