The cancer therapy market is currently worth more than $130 billion globally. Beijing has prioritized creating a world-class pharmaceutical industry, and the race is now on for Chinese drugmakers to develop new cancer treatments.
One of those companies is CStone Pharmaceuticals, based in Suzhou, China. Its CEO, Dr. Frank Jiang, says a new area of cancer drugs — immunotherapy — is creating “very exciting” results for cancer patients.
In 2018, China adopted a fast-track process for evaluating and approving new drugs, making way for both domestic and imported drugs to hit the market faster.
CStone’s clinical trials with immunotherapies result in varied outcomes based on cancer type and patient background. Jiang is optimistic. He says there’s great promise that cancer treatment will go the way of HIV: A cocktail of treatments personalized to the patient.
Immunotherapy drugs use the body’s own immune system to fight cancer cells. These treatments are the focus of CStone’s research and are showing “encouraging” results in trials.
“For the first time, in certain cancers, patients get totally cured,” Jiang said.
“Unfortunately, it’s not 100 percent yet. We’re talking about 40 percent of the people or more benefit, but those benefits are real. This never happened with chemotherapy or surgery,” he said.
Promise of China’s Cancer-fighting Innovation
Cancer accounts for nearly 3 in 10 deaths in China. That’s an estimated 7,500 people who die from it every day.
China’s rising cancer rates have caught the attention of its government, doctors and entrepreneurs.
Legislation was passed in a bid to get new treatment methods developed. Now it takes just three years of streamlined product testing to get these to market.
This optimization has allowed for advancements in diagnosis methods like the use of artificial intelligence and robotics to help early treatment.