PharmaVentures Nikki Watkins discusses Oncology with Helen Wright.




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Video title: PharmaVentures Nikki Watkins discusses Oncology with Helen Wright.
Released on: September 06, 2010. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this interview, PharmaVentures Nikki Watkins discusses Oncology with reporter Helen Wright at the PTV studios, in Oxford, U.K.
The Impact and growth of Oncology and Cancer therapies
Helen Wright :
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review. On today's program we will be focusing on oncology looking at deal trends and the part new technology is playing. With me is PharmaVentures Head of Product and Portfolio Strategy, Nikki Watkins , Nikki , what's your analysis of trends in this marketplace at the moment?
Nikki Watkins:
Well as everybody knows cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and in fact the World Health Organization estimated that in 2007 something like 7.9 million deaths which is around 13% was due to cancerand this is only projected to increase to around something like 10 million by 2013. So clearly there is a big impact on worldwide economy due to deaths from cancer indications and that's not just because of medical care, but also loss of productivity and actually also the investment that goes into research into cancerand associated therapies. So in terms of the pharmaceutical industry oncology is actually one of the fastest and largest growing therapy areas, and in fact in 2009 the market was estimated to growth around $75 billion, and in 2014 it's estimated to be around a 100 billion, so the growth is obviously there and I think it's predominately due to a continued unmet need I think particularly in advanced cancers and also the fact that lot of these compounds are focusing on very specialist areas as well. So as a result of that there are actually a significant number of compounds that are in development and that ranges from the more traditional cytotoxic agents, anti-hormonal therapies to the newer research molecular targeted therapies.
Deal making trend in oncology
Helen Wright :
So what impact is all that having on deal-making?
Nikki Watkins:
Well in terms of deal-making oncology is actually one of the most active therapy areas and it has been for a number of years now, and we know that because from PharmaDeals which is PharmaVentures proprietary deal-making database I think there have been 825 deals in the oncology areas since the beginning of 2009. And most of these deals are actually around collaborations or licensing deals and I think that reflects first of all the intensity of development in the R&D area and oncology, and also secondly the fact that a lot of the research to novel approaches is being done by small companies, biotech's and academic institutes you clearly need partners down the line to develop the products. In addition the deals are actually becoming more complex as well and that's partly because oncology therapies can target some multiple indications and range different cancers and also we see a lot of risk sharing in deal-making in this area and that's because there is the risk of that the compound not actually achieving its market potential, but also in the current climate of healthcare policy makers and payers becoming much more influential, companies really have to show that their cancer therapies not only are safe and efficacious, but also have cost effectiveness and show value added benefits over the current therapies so that's convert the scope of deal-making in oncology at the moment.
Angiogenesis, VEGF: Areas of development
Helen Wright :
A new technology of course playing a very big part of all this?
Nikki Watkins:
Yes, that's right. So we are seeing less research and deal-making in the areas of cytotoxic therapies and anti-hormonal therapies but more in the area of the targeted molecular therapies, and in fact there were something like 400 molecular targeted therapies in the industries pipeline at the moment and around 10% of those are actually angiogenesis inhibitors and that's one of the most researched areas at the moment.
Helen Wright :
So tell me little bit more about that area?
Nikki Watkins:
Okay, so angiogenesis is the process by which new blood vessels form and that's also very key process for tumor growth and metastasis. And obviously there were lot of compounds in development that are looking at different regulatory and signaling pathways in angiogenesis and there are a number of areas such as growth factors, receptor tyrosine kinases and transcription factors that all govern the whole angiogenesis process, it's quite complicated. One of the most interesting I think of these is a vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF as everybody knows, and that's actually over expressed in a lot of different tumor types therefore makes it a very interesting kind of targets for angiogenesis and anti oncology therapies. So there are actually a number of different types of molecules that target the VEGF pathway, first of all there the anti-VEGF antibodies and what they do is bind VEGF stop it binding to its receptor and hence activate in the angiogenesis cascade and probably the most well known of these is Avastin which is developed by Genentech and that was in fact the first anti-angiogenic inhibitor that was approved by the FDA. The second area what they call soluble fusion proteins which are part of the extra cellular domains of the VEGF receptor themselves and what they do is just generally go around mapping up VEGF and so again stop it binding to its receptor and activating that cascade, and there is a product in development at the moment called a Aflibercept, which is better known as VEGF Trap which is being developed by a company called Regeneron. The third area is actual antibodies against the VEGF receptor as opposed to VEGF and again they stop VEGF binding through receptor and stop the cascade and one of the compounds in development at the moment is a compound from ImClone which is now part of Lilly. And then fourthly there are small molecules as well that actually target the receptor tyrosine kinase which is inside the endothelial cells so these are those have been acting extracellularly this is intracellularly and that includes compounds like a Sutent from Pfizer, and Nexavar from Bayer. And then finally the fifth area for research at the moment are compounds called small interfering RNAs that act on the messenger RNA within the nucleus of the cell and actually stop the production of VEGF itself. So those are five areas that have been looked at the moment, I mean in terms of things that are on the market there are actually not that many products, it's not a very crowded market. In 2009 the three main anti-VEGF therapies were Avastin, Sutent and Nexavar had revenues of something like $7.5 million, but that's again (indiscernable) to increase its forecast to be potentially around 16 million by 2014, and there potentially could be around 11 products on the market by that time.
Opportunities in major unmet medical need area
Helen Wright :
And of course everything we've been talking about so far comes against this background of a continuing major unmet need in this area doesn't it?
Nikki Watkins:
That's right, and also the therapies that are on the market at the moment that they have side effects, predominately the anti- angiogenesis inhibitors have side effects of hypertension Thrombosis, bleeding and quite often gastrointestinal perforations as well so it's quite serious, and I think the main reason behind those side effects is that some of these agents are actually quite broad acting and they actually act on normal physiological endothelial cells as well so hence these cardiovascular side effects. So I think there is still lot of opportunity for compounds that don't have the side effects and actually act on pathological VEGF pathways as opposed to physiological. And I think the second area where there is still an opportunity is because many tumors actually develop resistance to these therapies, so hence there is also an argument for using combinations therapies that act at different phases in the pathway.
Helen Wright :
Nikki , thank you for joining us.
Nikki Watkins:
Thank you.
Helen Wright
Interviewer
Helen Wright has worked as a broadcast television journalist for several years, covering general news, business and politics and currently involved with PTV news of Pharmatelevision.com. Helen Wright has also worked as ITV News education correspondent and covered disability affairs. She has reported from Europe and the US. She also researched, directed and presented films for a Yorkshire TV regional documentary programme. Helen Wright began her journalistic career in local radio in Bradford. She has a BA Honours Degree in English.
Nikki Watkins
Nikki Watkins is an experienced executive with expertise assisting pharmaceutical companies achieve strategic and financial goals. She has over ten years pharmaceutical industry experience across a variety of roles, including Corporate Finance, R&D Portfolio Management, Commercial Analysis and Consumer Healthcare. Most recently she was Director, Portfolio Consolidation & Analysis at GlaxoSmithKline. Prior to GSK, Nikki worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she qualified as a chartered accountant and gained experience in the insurance and fund management sectors. Nikki has an MA (Hons) in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and is an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a company that has proven success in deals and alliances. PharmaVentures offers: Over 18 years of healthcare industry experience Experience gained from working with in excess of 1000 clients in 38 countries, and conducting more than 450 assignments Over 40 specialist advisors, analysts and researchers Skills honed in many countries - 80% of its business comes from outside the UK.