Pancreatic cancer treatment dominated by early-stage development

17 June, 2015

While the treatment pipeline for pancreatic cancer shows a high level of innovation, with 52 per cent of products categorised as first-in-class, most development is in the early stages.

That means a significant proportion of therapies are unlikely to reach the market in the near future, says business intelligence provider GBI Research.

The company's latest report states that while the pancreatic cancer treatment pipeline contains 447 therapeutics in active development across all Phases, compared to 209 currently-marketed products, almost 75 per cent of therapies are in Phase I or earlier.

According to Joshua Libberton, Analyst for GBI Research, 58 per cent of drugs in the pancreatic cancer treatment pipeline are in the Discovery or Preclinical stages, 17 per cent are in Phase I and 21 per cent are in Phase II, leaving just 4 per cent of products in Phase III of development.

Libberton comments: "While the Phase III portion of the pipeline is comparatively small, it is followed by a relatively large Phase II, indicating that there will be a sustained stream of products moving through the later development stages.

"Despite the majority of pancreatic cancer therapy development occurring in very early stages, many of the assessed targets showed promising preclinical results and a strong alignment to known disease-causing pathways, which could translate to clinical and commercial success."

The analyst adds that the high level of first-in-class development in pancreatic cancer therapeutics is a promising sign of the industry seeking innovative treatment solutions.

GBI Research's report also states that while the current global treatment market for pancreatic cancer is comprised of 91 per cent small molecules and 9 per cent biologics, some 41 per cent of the pipeline is formed from biologic therapies.

Libberton continues: "This considerable difference is in line with the industry trend of increasing biologic development, following the escalating success of biologics in other therapy areas, such as Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Avastin (bevacizumab).

"Despite this growth in the biologics sector, small molecules remain dominant in the pancreatic cancer pipeline thanks to their versatility and ease of manufacture, as well as a more established understanding of their clinical properties. However, it is clear that drug developers are seeking novel approaches to pancreatic cancer treatment that differ from the present market," the analyst concludes.