AstraZeneca CEO: Closing In On A Cancer Cure

Biotech is making great strides in oncology.

“I think we are within striking distance of curing some cancers or actually improving survival rates to 90% or above,” AstraZeneca plc AZN CEO Pascal Soriot told CNBC of the field.

Progress is partly owed to diagnostics. Tech advancements have enabled physicians to catch cancer at earlier stages, and the diagnostic speed continues to improve.

“We are now close enough to be able to diagnose cancer very early on, and the earlier you diagnose cancer, the better chance you have to cure the patient,” Soriot said.

Treatments are improving, too. In the last few months, the field has celebrated positive trial results for AstraZeneca’s Lynparza and Imfinzi, Myovant Sciences Ltd MYOV’s Relugolix, Diffusion Pharmaceuticals Inc DFFN’s Trans Sodium Crocetinate, Seattle Genetics, Inc. SGEN’s tucatinib and Mirati Therapeutics Inc MRTX’s MRTX849.

Patients are also being offered more and diverse therapeutic techniques. AstraZeneca is investing in many of them, including in antibody conjugates and cell therapy. But the company is staying out of one of the trendier fields: gene therapy.

“Not because we don’t believe in it, not because it has no place,” Soriot said. “It certainly has a great place, but we can’t be everywhere.”

If a treatment has potential, somebody is on it. Nascent cancer companies file for IPOs almost weekly to expand a dense field already held by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co BMY, Celgene Corporation CELG, Merck & Co. Inc. MRK, ZIOPHARM Oncology Inc. ZIOP and dozens and dozens more.

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Posted In: Pascal SoriotBiotechGeneral