Clinical Therapeutic Intelligence Report: 1Q-2Q, 2013
The oncology market continues to grow with another productive year for drug development. There are 981 total drugs in the oncology pipeline, of which 180 compounds are in Phase III trials with 17 expected to be approved by year’s end. Six drugs have been approved in 2013 to date.
Scientific progress focused on targeted therapies
With research focused on targeted therapies, such as monoclonal antibodies (mAb’s), tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKI’s) and treatment vaccines, the oncology drug landscape is changing. Targeted therapies have been described as a “smart bomb” approach, only killing the cancerous cells and leaving healthy cells intact, which means fewer side effects experienced by the patient.
“Our understanding of cancer biology has exploded over the past decade identifying many pathways that, when targeted by novel therapeutics, offer patients significant benefits in clinical outcomes,” said Dr. Mark A. Socinski, Chairman of Biologics’ Oncology Board of Advisors and Director of the Lung Cancer Section of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The emphasis now and in the future is using targeted therapies in targeted patient populations.”
Three of the six new drugs approved are indicated for patients that have a specific genetic mutation. Two such products, Tafinlar and Mekinist, both from GlaxoSmithKline, are targeted therapies specifically focused on melanoma.
Tafinlar is a BRAF kinase inhibitor, used for the treatment of metastatic or unresectable melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations. A MEK inhibitor blocks enzymes and affects the MAPK/ERK pathway, which is an overactive state in some forms of cancer, such as melanoma.
Use of Mekinist and Tafinlar together is resulting in longer periods of progression-free survival for patients than in patients being treated with either drug alone.