Successor to PD-1 inhibitors the focus of cancer immunotherapy

The cancer immunotherapy pipeline, displays a high level of first-in-class innovation with novel developments focusing heavily on producing the next big immune checkpoint inhibitor, according to GBI Research

GBI Research's latest report Cancer Immunotherapies — First-in-Class Pipeline Dominated by Immunomodulators and PD-1 Like Targets states that more than 75% of the most promising cancer immunotherapy drug targets are classified as immune checkpoint proteins, indicating a lot of potential for cancer immunotherapies that directly modulate the immune system.

The cancer immunotherapy pipeline comprises 3100 products and encompassing more than a third of all products in oncology development.

Emily Leckenby, Analyst for GBI Research, said: “As knowledge of the anti-cancer immune response increases, advances in the development of immunotherapies has followed.

“Both commercial and therapeutic success of immune checkpoint inhibitors Opdivo and Keytruda has driven an influx of pipeline programmes focusing on targeting immune system function rather than cancer cells directly. Targeting of the immune system has potential for use across oncology indications, attributing to its commercial success as a therapy strategy.”

Additionally, the cancer immunotherapies pipeline displays a high level of first-in-class innovation, with 989 of 3100 pipeline programmes involving therapeutic targets with no current market interest.

Leckenby said: “Many of these previously unexplored targets display a high probability in replicating the success of previous immune checkpoint inhibitors, despite struggles faced in progressing cancer immunotherapies into late stage development.”

According to GBI Research, more than 60% of first-in-class programmes are at an early stage of development (Discovery and Preclinical) compared to less than 1% that reach late stage development (Phase III and Pre-Registration).

Despite this, more than $15 billion has been invested into co-development deals involving immune checkpoint protein-targeting products for the last 10 years, an amount almost ten-times larger than those associated with other target types within the pipeline.

Leckenby said: “This high level of investment indicates that immune checkpoint proteins are an extremely valuable therapeutic target commercially, regardless of the risks associated with bringing cancer immunotherapies to market.”

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