Reality of tough-to-treat cancers
For many difficult-to-treat cancers, like metastatic pancreatic cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma, survival outcomes for patients remain poor. In fact, beyond standard of care in both first- and second-line treatment settings, there has been a lack of identified molecular or genetic biomarkers to help scientists advance treatment decisions. Despite the poor prognosis, these patients are knowledge warriors, scouring the internet and asking informed questions to their care teams in an effort to find clinical trials or innovative options to help their outcomes — hoping the next option is one that will offer them a glimpse of hope.
Having spent the better part of my career in discovery and development, from large pharma to small biotech, I have seen numerous changes in the industry and now realize we are currently at a unique juncture in pharmaceutical advancement. On one hand, there are several small, agile biotechnology companies that are advancing science in areas of difficult-to-treat solid tumors and rare blood cancers at an astounding rate. On the other, we have large pharma companies, who have the expertise and know-how in the commercialization of approved assets, and who understand the power of scientific innovation being driven by these scientists and are more than willing to collaborate and work towards a unified goal — unlocking the potential of assets for the benefit of the patient.
Creating a function that prioritizes the patient
As head of Ipsen’s Research, External Innovation and Early Development (REED) function, I have dedicated my time and resources to building and tailoring a collaborative organization that is optimized to support the identification and rapid progression of an asset, from bench-to-bedside. We pride ourselves on getting to know and understand patients, listening to their needs and ensuring we ground ourselves in what it is they are looking for regarding a treatment plan. With one of our core areas of focus being oncology, we have made it our mission to support patients living with these rare and niche tumors and seek out innovative companies and assets that support advancement in disease areas that have gone too long without change.
Ipsen is already well recognized in the oncology space for partnering with innovative companies and developing candidates focused on difficult-to-treat solid tumors. As a partner of choice for emerging oncology biotech and scientific innovators, Ipsen tailors our approach depending on who we partner with to ensure we provide complementary expertise. We dedicate ourselves on understanding the biology, the modality and the value these assets can bring to patients so that we are prepared to offer our partner the appropriate resources needed to accelerate the development and ultimately the commercialization of these therapies. Additionally, when we take on the collaboration, we dedicate resources to follow life cycle management to really support the full potential of the program and serve as many patients as possible.
Identifying and unlocking new pathways
Leaning on our heritage in the oncology space, our REED team has put an emphasis on identifying pipeline-supportive pre-clinical and early-stage candidates that address an unmet patient need. This year alone we have expanded our early-stage pipeline to include candidates that focus on three main pathways — DNA-Repair, MAP-Kinase and Apoptosis. This approach, backfilling our pipeline with innovative science that emphasizes pathway exploration over a disease-area focused approach, should unlock a new era for Ipsen in Oncology — and hopefully a new wave of innovative treatment solutions for patients.
Though we have had a successful year, we are not done. For me, and for my Ipsen colleagues, it’s heartening to see that there is still a lot of research that continues in the biotech world for patients dealing with rare cancer diagnoses. We continue to see new classes of targets emerging and progress being made with different modalities, creating a new wave of opportunity. As part of this growing community, we are excited to contribute, offering our collaborators and partners access to our global reach, translational science expertise and regulatory rigor, and unlock the potential of assets for patients who need it most.
To learn more about Ipsen and its ongoing commitment to the oncology community, visit our website.
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February 2022, NON-US-002965