Jul 17, 2019

How Cancer Research Translates Into Survival

The summer months mark the time when many pharmacologists, epidemiologists, and oncologists often learn whether they were awarded funding to continue their research. Funding for clinical trials and investigations are crucial to helping scientists keep their studies, experiments, and analyses running.

It’s an understatement to say research is difficult work, and the people doing the work don’t get the praise they deserve. There are more failures than successes, and rarely do we witness those “a-ha” moments seen in movies. Abstracts and posters at conferences, like those that appeared at ASCO, help illustrate progress, but it’s slow, deliberate, and methodical. As the backbone for all the advancements we have seen, we can’t thank these tireless researchers enough.

The benefits derived from this research expands our knowledge about all facets of a particular disease, including its onset, growth, and proliferation – and of course treatment. We continue to see that research and effort paying off–from it, we’ve gotten more targeted, effective, and well-tolerated agents and prevention strategies.

With the availability of new oncology therapies, the results speak for themselves. Since 1991, the rate of cancer deaths has dropped by 27% in the United States.1 This is a monumental decline, but continued research and support in the lab, the clinic, and at home is needed to sustain and even accelerate this positive trend.

The cancer research landscape is creating a consistently changing world of new, expanding, and targeted treatments. Many of the newly approved agents are immunotherapy and other targeted medicines, leading to promising and even groundbreaking results.

Simply put: This is what research is all about. The better we understand the mechanisms behind the many types of cancer, the more successful we will be in developing true targeted therapies.

Some targeted therapies try to attack specific types of mutated cancer cells, many of which are resistant to other more traditional approaches. Other types of targeted agents help the immune system fight off the disease. And unlike chemotherapy, these targeted therapies may have fewer side effects. In addition to immunotherapy and targeted treatments, clinical research has begun to focus on more difficult-to-treat and rare forms of cancer, which were previously put on the back burner.

We’ve also seen how artificial intelligence (AI) has changed the way we may be able to diagnose and treat patients. As more data become available, AI is able to better identify patterns and predict outcomes and make those predictions more quickly. This includes truly targeting therapy by finding the right treatment for the right patient. And the information that AI has pulled out of previous clinical trials can be used to better design future studies.3

The reduction in the number of people who die from cancer isn’t only the result of improved treatments. Research into the pathology of cancers has helped us understand the behavioral changes needed to reduce the number of cases of cancer in the first place.

When researchers painted a clearer picture of the association between cigarette smoking and cancer, lung cancer numbers began to drop. The same goes for indoor tanning and the use of sunscreen; we’ve seen a precipitous decrease in many types of skin cancer. Researchers are learning more about the connection between cancer and obesity, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity, and we’ll need to see a healthy reversal in those trends in the future.

This part of our industry needs to be lauded. Whether it’s the researchers or the organizations and corporations that fund the trials, the outcomes will allow healthcare professionals to bring this new information into their practice with the hopes of extending the lives of their patients.

At NAVICOR, we’re committed to helping transform patients into survivors, and we understand where these innovations start. We leverage the countless hours of research to create compelling work, helping convert compounds into brands. With continued support and education, we can all do our part to make a difference and improve outcomes.

 

References:

1.

American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2019. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2019.

2.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Novel drug approvals for 2018. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/new-drugs-fda-cders-new-molecular-entities-and-new-therapeutic-biological-products/novel-drug-approvals-2018.

3.

Kann BH, Thompson R, Thomas CR, Dicker A, Aneja S. Artificial intelligence in oncology: current applications and future directions. Oncology. (Williston Park)2019;33(2):46-53.