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Cancer, a leading cause of mortality worldwide
That cancer is a leading killer worldwide is beyond a doubt: according to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2012 there were roughly 14.0 million new cases, with 8.2 million cancer-related deaths1. More worrying yet is the number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades.
Early detection is crucial to reducing cancer mortality. This involves early diagnosis of signs and symptoms, plus screening to identify individuals with abnormalities. In addition to this, effective treatment, including pain relief and palliative care, can help increase cancer survival rates and reduce patient suffering.
One of the reasons cancer is so difficult to cure is it is not just one disease. The WHO estimates there are more than 100 different kinds of cancer2, and each one is specific and requires an adapted treatment.
Recent research has shown that two patients suffering from the same type of cancer can respond differently to the same treatment. This means personalized medicine can be particularly effective in the fight against cancer, offering each patient an individualized treatment tailored to their tumor.
From a healthy cell to a cancer cell:
Living with cancer: A patient’s story
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, Catherine has fought for many years to overcome the disease. “When I first found out, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “For me, cancer meant a certain death.” At the time, there was no support plan, but Catherine was fortunate to a have a very good doctor, with a great medical team, including a psychologist. “After a few years, I decided to start a blog to help other women”, she explained. “The simple fact I’m still here more than 14 years later can give them hope.” She stressed that allowing patients to talk about their experience is extremely important. “There are a lot of problems you encounter in everyday life – like how other people react when you tell them you have cancer, how to dress and make yourself up – that aren’t talked about enough.”
Our way of rising to the challenge
Our open model of innovation, which focuses on scientific partnership, has helped us develop new approaches and expertise to devise targeted treatments that are effective in beating back cancer.
Being open to scientific partnerships is absolutely essential for Sanofi. By working with academic research teams, biotech companies and specialized cancer centers, Sanofi plays an active role in fostering innovation in treating cancer.
With this in mind, we are actively working with Warp Drive Bio, a biotech company, to develop new oncology therapies and antibiotics to target important potentially carcinogenic genes (oncogenes).
Another front in the battle against cancer is in figuring out how the immune system itself can be boosted to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. Though it’s in its early stages, immuno-oncology, as it’s referred to, holds much promise – several immune-mediated therapies, which may well be able to improve treatments for patients with certain cancers.
Given this, Sanofi partnered with Evotec and Apeiron Biologics in 2015 to discover and develop first-in-class small molecule-based immuno-oncology therapies. Sanofi also entered into an agreement with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2015 to carry out research in immuno-oncology, with the goal of developing and commercializing new antibody cancer treatments.
We have also struck up a partnership with Innate Pharma to develop innovative bispecific antibody (i.e. binding to two different antigens) formats engaging natural killer (NK) cells to kill tumor cells through the activating receptor NKp46.
Research and innovation at Vitry-sur-Seine
“I’m proud of working every day to fight cancer.” Olivier Noël, team manager, Vitry-sur-Seine, France.
Sanofi employs about 300 researchers at its Vitry-sur-Seine site, one of the headquarters for its global oncology division. This has allowed us to make substantial progress developing anticancer molecules, with some 53 molecules currently in clinical cancer trials or being approved by the French authorities.
Our commitment to research and innovation is exemplified by our €200-million investment in transforming the site into a global center for bio-production4, capable of producing treatments derived from living organisms (i.e. biotherapies), crucial in developing targeted therapeutics. One such example is a highly effective treatment we have developed against colorectal cancer.
Another one of our promising targeted treatments are immune conjugates. These are highly powerful molecules that target cancerous cells exclusively. They do so by binding to the tumor cell and delivering a highly active molecule to destroy it.
Our societal commitments
Outside the corporate world, the Sanofi Espoir Foundation has partnered with the International Union against Cancer (UICC), the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the International Society of Pediatric Oncology (SIOP) to create the My Child Matters program to improve survival rates for children with cancer in impoverished developing countries.
“The local success of these projects has led a number of governments to recognize cancer as a child health priority. Thanks to this type of decision, we can improve the management of child cancers in a sustainable way.” Dr. Anne Gagne-pain Lacheteau, Medical Director of the Sanofi Espoir Foundation.
Discover the My Child Matters program in pictures:
For the availability of our healthcare solutions in your country, please consult your local Sanofi website.
Sanofi has worked in the field of oncology for decades and is the source of some of its major scientific and medical advances.
- WHO, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/
- WHO, http://www.who.int/cancer/en/
- As of February 9th 2016