As a company we are working to encourage early diagnosis with an integrated approach. It will be essential to work together with the scientific community to give women with early stage cancer the opportunity to access genetic testing because currently testing for the Brca mutation is a custom in advanced disease for which drugs are approved.
The problem will be creating the culture and guaranteeing access to genetic testing even in the initial disease, but now that we have this data we will do what we can to expand access.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had strong implications for the entire patient care process, from diagnosis to treatment. In your opinion, what implications have there been for clinical research in oncology and what lessons have we learned?
As AstraZeneca we managed to overcome the pandemic very well, especially in oncology: more than 80% of without delay. We had to work with individual countries to develop projects that could give a concrete hand.
For example, by shipping the drug that the patient took during the trial home instead of sending it to the hospital, or by setting up a remote system for monitoring the patient’s condition. We have learned a lot and will treasure both the digitization and the simplification of research processes.
What will the research focus on in the near future?
Our strategy is based on three keywords: early, harder and smarter. That is, to get therapy in the early stages because there we can make a difference and treat patients, develop drugs that really make a difference and that are based on strong molecular targets developed to inhibit specific targets and finally take that extra step by developing the medicine of precision, identifying new subgroups of patients.
We have a large portfolio in breast cancer oncology, we want to become the first pharmaceutical company in this sector. We also have new studies in lung cancer in both small cell and lung microcytoma. We are developing hematology in an important way: for example at the ASCO Congress the final results of the ELEVATE-RR phase
III head-to-head study were presented which demonstrated a non-inferior progression-free survival and fewer atrial fibrillation events. for acalabrutinib compared to ibrutinib in previously treated patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the most common type of adult leukemia.
The long-term follow-up of the ELEVATE-TN study was also presented at ASCO, which confirmed progression-free survival and four-year favorable tolerability for acalabrutinib in first-line patients. And we have other products and many ongoing studies for bladder, stomach and liver cancer.