Challenges and Emerging Opportunities in Cancer
Cancer is a condition in which the abnormal cells start to grow uncontrollably with the potential to destroy healthy tissues of the body. It is the 2nd leading cause of death in the world; about 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. However, no specific cause has been detected for its development. But, many research studies have shown that certain risk factors that may increase the possibility of cancer are excessive exposure to the chemicals, development of obesity, family history of cancer, and poor lifestyle. However, the ratio of people suffering from it can be reduced through early detection and proper management.
The oncology drug market is enormously growing from past years and is expected to value at $178 billion by 2023. After this much growth, pharmaceutical companies still face many challenges such as patient enrollment and retention in cancer-research studies, early patient expiration, high cost of cancer-research, and high treatment demand in cancer drug development. But, patient enrollment and retention in clinical studies are the biggest challenges for the pharmaceutical companies and their clinical researchers to develop new treatment or diagnostic methods. This is obvious because the patient pool for certain cancers is very less and above that, cancer studies require long follow-up periods for successful completion. Due to lesser patients, the analysis of the actual clinical impact of therapies and diagnostic methods becomes incomplete. On the other hand, due to limited patient retention, it becomes tough for doctors to retain all patients for a long time, which lead to studying failure or termination.
To overcome this challenge, the pharmaceutical companies have started to incorporate new technology, ie, electronic clinical outcome assessment (eCOA), into the cancer research studies. The eCOA is a digital method which includes smartphones, tablets, and personal computers to capture outcomes from both patients and clinicians instead of using papers and make appointments. It can also capture secure data through browsers, interactive voice response systems, and the patients’ own devices. Therefore, the eCOA method engages the patients and retains them until the completion of the clinical study. This method can also increase the communication between patients and clinical staff, and provide a good impact on the quality of life of patients and improve the outcome of the clinical studies.
With challenges, cancer research area also provides various prospects for drug developing companies. Nowadays, immunotherapy (ie, activation or suppression of the immune system) has become a more powerful treatment for cancer. Immunotherapy targets the major reason behind the progression i.e. hiding of cancer cells from the immune system. As per National Institute of Cancer, immunotherapy marks the cancer cells, so that it becomes easier for the immune system to find and finish these harmful cells. However, immunotherapy has shown a different response rate among various patients. On the other hand, immunotherapy has also provided essential transformation for cancer treatment when it is combined with other therapies. Currently, various clinical studies are in the developing stage to check the effect of integrated immunotherapy. In future, maybe the new immune biomarkers like immunotherapy will launch which will improve early diagnosis and prognosis.
In this way, the pharmaceutical companies have started to reduce the retention challenges by incorporating eCOA methods in its cancer study, which also improves the clinical data outcome. The immune system of humans is very powerful because it fights against cancer when they get immunized. Therefore, immunotherapy has become an effective treatment against cancer and provided the new prospect to the cancer drug developing companies as well.