Today marks the 20th anniversary of World Cancer Day. Since its inception on 4th February 2000, World Cancer Day has helped to raise the profile of cancer research, generate greater understanding of the disease and promote respect for those living with cancer, as well as highlighting the need for funding not just in the public eye but also in world health policies.
Although progress in cancer diagnosis and treatment has come a long way, for example in the UK, cancer survival (10 years or more) has doubled in the last 40 years, an estimated 9.6million people died worldwide from cancer in 2018. More than half of these deaths occur in the least developed parts of the world. Even in higher income countries, there is inequality in access to treatment, especially for those in immigrant, refugee, rural and lower income communities. Thus, in addition to the need for adequate funding for research, there also needs to be a greater emphasis on equal access to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, which could save thousands of lives each year (see attached infographic from the World Cancer Day initiative from the UICC).
There are many new and promising Cancer Therapies on the horizon; not least of those is chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapies (What is CAR T cell therapy? Click here to find out).
As of May 2019, there were more than 550 clinical trials investigating CAR T therapies for different haematological and solid cancer types1. The first two cellular cancer immunotherapies receiving EMA and FDA approval were tisagenlecleucel and axicabtagen-ciloleucel. Their approval was based on impressive response rates in clinical trials for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and diffuse large B cell lymphoma1. Despite their early promise, there are many hurdles standing in the way of CAR T cell therapies as a mainstay of cancer treatments. Ranging from problems in manufacturing (often lengthy and complex isolation and modification process) to CAR toxicity, evasion by tumour cells (resistance to therapy) and ineffectiveness against solid tumours.
RESTORE is a large-scale research initiative dedicated to making Advanced Therapies a reality for all patients in need (https://www.restore-horizon.eu/). A key tenet of this promise is making these therapies accessible, meaning that they are both affordable and readily available. RESTORE recognises the significant barriers that face such innovative new therapies and will continue to lobby at policy level, promote information exchange and involve and connect patients, researchers, physicians and industry players to bring accessible and affordable Advanced Therapies to all those in need.
The theme of the 2019-2021 Campaign is “I Am and I Will”, urging people to get personally involved and highlighting the power of an individual’s actions as part of a collective campaign. To see how you can get involved in World Cancer Day, whether you have just a second, a minute or more than 5 minutes to spare, visit their website https://www.worldcancerday.org/take-action.
Our infographic on cancer: https://www.restore-horizon.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/WCD20_Infographic_ENGLISH_FA.pdf