Many of us can recall the moment we received the phone call from a loved one or even heard the diagnosis ourselves, straight from the doctor. Probably more of us than we’d like to imagine have been confronted by cancer at some point in our lives. Currently, 8.8 million people die from cancer worldwide each year, 4 million of those prematurely. On World Cancer Day 2018, we stand strong with all people who are battling cancer or who have seen loved ones suffer this disease and we say: #WeCanICan fight cancer.
What is World Cancer Day?
World Cancer Day was established in the year 2000 and encourages everyone to raise awareness and take action to reduce the global burden of cancer. We can, I can, do our part to help.
Dedicated to making a difference
If you’ve been impacted by cancer, you’ll want to know what’s being done to tackle this complex disease. We’re with you there. We work tirelessly to bring our vision to life: transforming the lives of people impacted by cancer with a curative resolve through science and innovation.
We set up an Oncology Strategic Business Unit which houses key functions under one roof to ensure new treatment options are developed and delivered to patients as quickly as possible. We want to be as efficient as we can because we know that the time from discovery to approval of a new drug can take over a decade, but we understand that patients are already waiting today.
“Patients are at the heart of everything we do, which is why we strive each day to develop effective, life-improving therapies and make them available as quickly as possible.”
Robert LaCaze, Head of the Oncology Strategic Business Unit, Pharmaceuticals Division
Cancer is a disease which occurs when a group of normal cells change and begin dividing abnormally and growing uncontrollably. In most cases a tumor is formed. If left untreated, tumors can grow and spread into the surrounding normal tissue, or to other parts of the body via the bloodstream and lymphatic systems. This can affect the digestive, nervous and circulatory systems.1
Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of new cases is expected to rise by 70% over the next 20 years.2
Currently, between 30–50% of cancers can be prevented. This can be accomplished by avoiding risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy eating habits, or infections, and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies. The cancer burden can also be reduced through early detection and suitable treatment of patients who develop cancer. Many cancers have a high chance of being cured if diagnosed early and treated effectively. 3
Discovering drugs that change patients’ lives
We want to make sure that we develop new medicines that truly make a difference to the patients who need it most. We team up with external partners who complement our expertise to bring life-changing cancer therapies to patients:
We recently renewed our partnership with the renowned Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. We work together in the area of oncogenomics and drug discovery. Oncogenomics is the study of genes to find specific ones that may cause cancer. We want to discover and develop therapies and drugs that selectively target cancer genes.
Since 2008, we have collaborated with the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). We are researching immuno-oncology which looks at how patients’ immune systems can be activated to rid the body of cancer.
You might have also heard most recently of our newest partnership with Loxo Oncology. In this partnership we are jointly developing two compounds which could help treat patients with a genetic abnormality where certain genes “fuse” (connect) to other unrelated genes, potentially resulting in cancer. These connections are called tropomyosin receptor kinase, or TRK, fusions. By finding out if a patient with cancer has this abnormality we can try and find the best treatment to help them. You can find out more about testing for TRK fusions here.
The future of cancer treatment
Cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence
On this World Cancer Day we want to raise awareness about the prevention and early detection of cancer, but also the importance of continued research and development of innovative treatments.
“In many cases today cancer does not necessarily have to be a death sentence. A series of therapeutic options can make it possible today to live with the disease and have a good quality of life. But unfortunately, this is not the case for all forms of cancer. The disease remains one of the greatest challenges in medical research.”
Karl Ziegelbauer, Head of Therapeutic Research Groups, Bayer Pharmaceuticals
1 Medical News Today - Cancer: What you need to know https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/cancer-oncology, Last accessed January 2018
2 Medical News Today - Cancer: What you need to know https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/cancer-oncology, Last accessed January 2018
3 American Cancer Society - Cancer Facts & Figures 2017 - Last accessed January 2018 https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/annual-cancer-facts-and-figures/2017/cancer-facts-and-figures-2017.pdf