By Daniel Hébert, Medical Head, Oncology
There is no single way to treat cancer which is why our approach to tackling blood cancers is to consistently be at the cutting edge of science and working together as a team, both internally and externally. No exceptions.
2018 marked a historic moment for patients with certain blood cancers. Words like paradigm-changing and pioneering were used widely to describe the arrival of the first CAR-T therapy in Canada. CAR-T therapy harvests a patient’s own T cells and reprograms them to recognize and attack cancer cells. CAR-T therapy is a great example of how Novartis continually strives to take science further, opening our minds to all scientific possibilities. It also involves many partnerships and collaborations to make these new treatment options a reality, resulting in a meaningful difference for patients in need of an improved quality of life. It takes the involvement of investigators, government, payers, and most importantly, patients involved in research studies.
Blood cancers are the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada. 21 years ago, Novartis revolutionized blood cancer research when the first trial with a targeted agent transformed patient outcomes for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It changed the lives of many and became the benchmark for how we approach research. The prognosis for the once life-limiting cancer has improved considerably. CML has been transformed into a chronic condition for most and today discontinuing therapy has become a feasible treatment goal for some.
Partnering with leukemia specialists and their extended teams, Novartis was instrumental in supporting the successful implementation of a standardized patient management and monitoring process across the country which now allows patients who achieve a deep and stable response to live without long-term treatment.
From targeted therapies to precision cell and gene therapy and immunotherapy – we are pioneers, blazing a trail for others to follow. We are leading the way through collaborations and investments that drive research and development across all cancers while bringing expertise, scale and commitment to test new therapies for a variety of conditions.
We want to be known as the company who transforms what it means to live with blood cancer or a serious blood disorder, constantly reaching for new and different endpoints. This is our desired legacy. Canadians believe in us and we believe in the promise of our innovative research and strong partnerships.