The National Cancer Institute estimates that 40% of US adults will develop cancer at some point in their life, and according to EvaluatePharma, oncology accounts for a fifth of the global pharmaceutical cost burden. The recent surge in immuno-oncology (IO) innovation couldn’t have come at a better time.
At ASCO 2021, presentations featuring data from the latest studies of new IO treatments in development will dominate the podium at the leading oncology research annual conference. There were encouraging data on LAG-3 antibodies from BMS as well as Merck. As Evan Lipson, an oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and lead author of the Phase 3 RELATIVITY-047 of relatlimab with Opdivo study stated about the study, "It establishes the LAG-3 pathway as the third immune checkpoint pathway in history after CTLA-4 and PD-1 for which blockade appears to have clinical benefit."
More new pathways and novel antibodies are generating new therapeutic opportunities, which is all good news for cancer patients. These also create ever greater need for digital solutions to help accelerate the impact of these IO therapies to better predict how a patient’s cancer will react to any given treatment, to identify potential adverse events, and to choose the best combination of therapies. The key is leveraging data from remote monitoring devices, companion digital diagnostics, and available algorithms.
The concept of patient matching is straightforward—the oncologist aims to match a patient to the best therapy and maximize the patient’s adherence to the chosen therapy. When successful, patient matching has a huge impact on clinical outcomes.
The challenge comes when there is a gap in the data the physician uses to choose a therapy. This can occur for various reasons; one example is when a patient drops out of a study and the researchers choose to censor that patient’s data. Digital health solutions can help clinicians interrogate the data and unlock greater insights than previously possible.
“Bringing clinical patient features together with response and biomarker data helps predict correlations around which patients may respond better and may allow us to identify features that we want to engineer into our therapies,” says Teri Foy, Senior Vice President of Immuno-Oncology and Cellular Therapy at BMS.
With more than 160 biomarkers approved as of 2019, the field of oncology is championing precision medicine. This development is driving individualized treatments and advanced algorithms that help doctors match patients with the best treatments.
“A key tenet for us is to the follow the science,” says one oncology executive at a leading life sciences company. “We know that tumor biology is complex and that patient response to drugs might differ based on one or more biomarker levels. So it is important to tailor treatments in order to get the best outcomes for patients. We are focused on advancing precision medicine.”
IO developments are moving at warp speed, which makes real-time digital and AI-based algorithms more important than ever. Oncologists are prioritizing individualized treatment plans, many of which don’t include chemotherapy. Precision medicine makes that possible.
Once a doctor has determined a patient’s treatment course, the doctor moves on to reducing risk and optimizing outcomes. Remote patient monitoring is a key component of this stage of treatment, allowing the care team to receive real-time updates while the patient goes about their normal activities. Side effects can be tracked and, in some cases, mitigated. If therapeutic intervention is necessary, the care team knows about it immediately and can jump into action quickly. Patients enjoy earlier treatment and a quicker return home.
As the provider of the leading global platform for biopharma and medtech regulated digital health solutions, BrightInsight is dedicated to contributing to innovation in the IO field. We envision a global transformation of patient outcomes, starting with the acceleration of regulated digital health innovation. With that goal in mind, we enable the capture, transmission, and analysis of data from medical devices, apps, software, algorithms, and other devices, empowering precision medicine and better patient matching.
Find out more in our white paper, The Role of Digital Health in Immuno-oncology Therapy Development.