Anuja More Junior Digital Marketing Executive Allied Market Research

Reverberations in the Market in the Wake of the Juno Deaths

At present, cancer continues to haunt millions of people, of all age groups. According to global statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the second-highest cause of fatalities among all non-communicable diseases (behind heart disease). In 2012, the different types of cancers collectively claimed 8.2 million lives around the world. The number of people diagnosed with cancer has only grown in the recent past, breaking previous records, while a huge population stands at-risk of developing similar conditions. Risk factors can range from genetics to lifestyle choices. In this backdrop, there are flourishing avenues for the cancer therapeutics and biotherapeutic markets to grow.

The available cancer therapeutics market offers various therapeutic modalities on healthcare platforms that can be narrowed down into segments based on the modernity of the technology. Traditional approaches in the market include chemotherapy and radiation therapy, that are still in general practice. Techniques that have risen in the industry more recently include hormone therapy and biotherapy, which have shown promise in specific cancers. At present, the industry is embracing fresh therapeutic procedures, such as biotherapy. This segment promises an immense scope for future growth, given the listlessness of traditional therapies.

Understanding the Cancer Biotherapeutics Market

The cancer biotherapeutics market includes the use of living organisms, bio-derivatives, or lab-cultured tissues for both prevention and cure of cancers. Nested within the segment is the area of immunotherapy. It allows for the patient to be injected with vaccines or biological elements that inhibit the development and growth of cancerous cells. This is a proactive route to prevent the onset of cancer and thus proteomics and next-generation sequencing (NGS) has led to successful ventures in the field of genetic engineering. Along with the growth of global economies and their respective healthcare spending, the consumer trend has shifted toward acquiring targeted, individual cancer therapeutics. Better identification of protein sequences has helped healthcare practitioners to deliver personalized cancer treatment modalities.

The Juno Incidence and its Industry Reverberations

Juno Therapeutics, Inc. is a Seattle-based pharmaceutical company that released the results of its latest assay on December 5. The company was conducting a clinical trial on an innovative route of immunotherapy, which was put to a stop after the death of two test candidates. These patients were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and were undergoing the controversial CAR-T cell therapy. The modality involves the genetic engineering of T cells acquired from a patient’s own body to program them for attacking cancerous cells. They are then re-infused into the candidate to observe how their body and condition respond to these GM cells. Though the critical importance of the therapy has been reiterated by industry players who have made progressive moves in this direction, there have been several reported deaths during similar trials for the CAR-T cell therapy.

Need for the Word of Awareness

The cancer therapeutic and bio therapeutics industry encounters its first challenge in the social stigma against cancer patients. Some societies these patients in a different light and tend to isolate them when they need social support the most. In addition, countries with low literacy rates tend to show lower affinity to adopt the advanced techniques that are brought in by the industry vendors. New techniques and updates to previously known therapy techniques are only possible by intensive and expensive R&D activities. The leading biotechnology companies invest heavily in clinical trials to test the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of the proposed cancer therapies. But despite this investment, and because of unfortunate instances such as the one at the Juno trial, global consumers have the word of doubt ingrained in their minds, when should have the word of awareness.

Balance is the Key

The key here is to own the mistakes made and look for solutions at the same time. For instance, Kite Pharma did accept the death of a test candidate during a CAR-T cell therapy trial for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Although, the company backed off from ascertaining if there was any evidence that the death was caused by their test routine. Some industry experts acknowledge the neurotoxic consequences in patients with advanced stages of cancer. On the other hand, experts also accept that the treatment is efficient in practice; but only after the respective solutions have been devised for its side-effects and consequences.

“The thing about everyone’s CAR-T cell products is that they work, and they work very well,” said Ronald Dudek, founder and president of Living Pharma, a company which develops CAR-T cell products.

Amidst the great excitement among healthcare practitioners that look forward to the commercial implementation of novel therapies, the key market participants need be more transparent in their approach. A proper synchronization between technological progress and effective awareness programs is needed to prepare the consumer base for what is yet to come.

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