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Biomarkers are valued but 1 in 3 oncologists want improvement

Biomarkers are embraced by oncologists as an important tool in their arsenal to treat cancer. They enable a more personalized approach to treatment by identifying patients who are likely to respond to specific immunotherapies and yet oncologists want pharma to do more.

In our 2019 Leadership study, we asked oncologists to reveal their most wanted areas for improvement in ImmunoOncology (IO) where pharma companies should focus their efforts. Their priority list revealed, 1 in 3 oncologists wanted better patient selection through biomarkers. This was among the top 3 priorities with financial impact and access to IO therapies. Our analysis revealed that 35% of European based oncologists want pharma to improve biomarkers compared to 29% of US based colleagues.

Oncologists want to improve patient selection through biomarkers
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While IO therapies can offer tremendous improvement for patients, their response rate to a specific tumor can be as low as 20-30%. The individual gene activity within a cancer is an important cause underlying these varied responses. Certain genes in progressing tumors are activated by immunotherapy and this activity can dampen the immune cell response. We are now seeing combination therapies (using two different IO therapies) entering clinical practice with leading oncologists, and genetic profiling will become even more important in aiding the usage of combining different IO therapies. Oncologist intent to utilize and actual usage of genetic profiling is corroborated in many onco-diagnostics focused MDOutlook research.

Given the benefits of genomic profiling, the MDOutlook team is not surprised that specialized companies such as Foundation Medicine (FMI) have attracted the attention of oncology heavy weights such as Roche. In 2018, Roche completed its acquisition of FMI and is now using their technology to identify molecular alterations in a patient’s cancer. In patients with a high level of mutations, they may only need one IO drug while those with lower levels get a combination therapy. We have extensively studied the area of companion diagnostics and expect more integration beyond the ubiquitous licensing arrangements.

These improved predictions can also help oncologists to adjust their treatment approach and ultimately improve outcomes for patients. Based on late 2018 research with leading oncologists, we expect significant research and developments with respect to combining immune-oncology drugs in relevant patients to boost overall and continued response. Biomarkers are highly valued by oncologists and together with clinical factors (overall survival, quality of life), label and availability of biomarkers have the greatest impact on IO treatment selection.

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This showcases an opportunity for pharma and represents one of many areas where MDOutlook offer significant research experience through targeted conference research and use of ONCpulse in accessing the world’s largest community of oncologists and experts.

As a trusted partner in oncology, MDOutlook is uniquely placed to help you with precision intelligence and ThoughtLeader engagement ahead of the conference season. Let’s take your next step together.

We look forward to meeting you at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting (May 31 – June 4) in Chicago and the European Hematology Association (EHA) annual meeting (June 13 – 17) in Amsterdam.

For further discussion or to arrange a meeting, please contact [email protected] or call +1 404.496.4136.

If you wish to be included in the distribution of the 2019 Leadership study, please click here.