By Stacey Smith for Pharma Tech Outlook
“Cancer is a journey, but you walk the road alone. There are many places to stop along the way and get nourishment—you have to be willing to take it.” (Emily Hollenberg)
These lines by Emily Hollenberg, a cancer survivor, give some semblance to the predicament of cancer patients. The torment of cancer continues to grow at an incredible pace, exerting tremendous physical, emotional, and financial strain on individuals, families, communities, and health systems. The disease is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for more than nine million deaths in 2018 worldwide with rising incidence according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Significant efforts and resources across the globe are being put into attempt to find an effective treatment for the disease.
In recent years, cancer immunotherapy has come a long way as a transformational methodology in the treatment of cancer patients, establishing itself as a new standard of care besides chemotherapy, radiotherapy, molecularly targeted therapeutics, and surgery. Thereby, cancer immunotherapy has made significant inroads in terms of survival and quality of life of cancer patients. Rather than aiming treatments directly at the tumour, immunotherapy engages the patient’s immune system to recognise and eradicate tumour cells. It also demonstrates the potential for the long-term survival of patients suffering from advanced solid tumours as immunomemory guides the immune system to go after cancer cells if they ever come back. However, despite these advances, many obstacles still exist in the field of cancer immunotherapy. The patients’ response rates vary significantly and, more often than not, only a small subset of the patients within a large cohort responds favourably to the treatment. Besides, patients also may have to deal with systemic toxicity along with the higher cost of treatment…