There were 19.3 million new cancer cases worldwide in 2020, the International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates. By 2040, that number could increase by about 50 percent to 30.2 million people. “The search for new, better therapeutic methods is in full swing. Especially in the field of cell therapy, a dynamic development can be expected,” says portfolio manager and biotech specialist Noushin Irani, on the occasion of the 22nd World Cancer Day on February 4.
One promising approach is CAR T cell therapy. This involves specifically modifying an immune cell (T cell) by importing a certain gene so that it recognizes tumor cells when returned to the patient and destroys them. Currently, she says, there are less than a handful of products used exclusively in the fight against blood cancers. “However, the range of applications and the number of products are likely to increase in the near future,” the biotechnology expert predicts. The market potential is correspondingly good. “A sales volume of $10 billion to $20 billion could be achievable in the next seven to ten years, a significant increase on the $1.6 billion expected this year,” Irani says.
Research on mRNA vaccines related to the fight against Covid-19 has also advanced cancer therapy. “Because so many people have already been vaccinated against Covid-19 with mRNA vaccines, an extremely large database on the technology has emerged in a short period of time, which could also be used for cancer research,” the biotechnology expert says. Cancers such as blood cancers and lymphoma are already partially curable. In addition, new cancer drugs, particularly in connection with immuno-oncology, have led to a significant increase in average life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis in the last ten years. Further improvements can be expected as a result of ongoing research.