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Owen Smith MP, Vice-Chair of the APPG on Cancer, chaired a breakout session on the future of cancer research and medicines.
The panel addressed the challenges of cancer research
Owen Smith was joined on the panel by Dr Allison Jeynes-Ellis, Medical and Innovation Director, ABPI; James Peach, Director of Stratified Medicines, Cancer Research UK; Kate Law Director of Clinical Research, Cancer Research UK; and Mike Birtwistle, Head of MHP Health, representing the Rarer Cancers Foundation.
The panel spoke about the challenges and recent developments regarding cancer research. This was followed by questions and discussion from the audience.
During this session, attendees heard that the UK is still one of the best places in the world to develop cancer treatments, but there are emerging challenges, such as falling productivity, increasing costs, competition from abroad, and a bureaucratic regulatory landscape.
Delegates also heard that cancer treatments are, currently, not targeted to individuals and so only 30% actually work, meaning costs are high. To address this patients need to be treated as individuals and given more targeted treatments.
Cancer Research UK is pioneering a stratified medicine research project in partnership with the NHS, industry and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Stratified medicines target cancer more effectively by understanding the biological profile of an individual patient’s cancer.
Currently, Herceptin is one of the most targeted treatments but it is still only 50% effective. Using the results from this project in combination with the collection of genetic information about individual patients, will enable a better understanding of which treatments are most effective with which genes.
As we come to learn more about the biology and genetics of cancer, it is possible that ‘common’ cancers will actually be stratified into distinct groups themselves.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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