Oncology, focus of research among AseBio members for past 15 years

  • 59% of drugs (277 lines of research at national companies and multinational corporations with a subsidiary in Spain) focus on finding a treatment for cancer
Madrid, España

The Spanish Bioindustry Association (AseBio) is taking advantage of World Cancer Day to remember that, for at least the past 15 years, oncology has been the therapeutic area with the most research in the Association’s pipeline, from diagnostics to treatments and prevention. 59% of drugs (277 lines of research at national companies and multinational corporations with a subsidiary in Spain) focus on finding a treatment for cancer.

However, in addition to searching for treatments and products to diagnose cancer, biotechnology companies also have innovative technology to detect it, for instance genetic studies and panels for early diagnosis and liquid biopsies to detect several types of cancer from a blood sample.

Catch it as early as possible

Life Length is one example of the first step: detection. This Spanish biotechnology company, using its telomerase analysis technology, is developing and commercialising two biomarkers for oncology, for early diagnosis of aggressive prostate and lung cancer.

The main barriers in developing this activity include the difficulty of including these products in the services available through the public health system and the complexity of the regulatory approval process for in vitro diagnostic (IVD) products as a result of the change in European regulations (IVDD to IVDR).

“As we have observed for some time now, biomarkers continue to gain traction in detecting and handling various pathologies, particularly cancer. Life Length aims to make its early cancer detection products available to everyone, as they are so significant to patients’ prognosis and better response to treatment,” said CEO Stephen J. Matlin.

Advancing at a good pace

For its part, Ability Pharmaceuticals, an AseBio member, continues moving in the right direction. The company is continuing with clinical development of ABTL0812, its drug to treat cancer with an innovative mechanism of action that induces selective autophagy in tumour cells. 

The upcoming phase 2b trial will be carried out in patients with pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly tumours, at centres in Spain, France, Israel and the United States. “With this trial, we are taking a step forward in development of new therapies for a devastating disease that is difficult to treat,” declared CEO Carles Domenech. This trial is on top of the other phase 2a trials the company has already conducted on lung and endometrial cancer, in which ABTL0812 obtained positive results and a great safety profile, allowing the company to continue development.

And if we could reduce our chances of getting sick?

Breast cancer is the most common tumour in the world among women. In fact, according to data from Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer (AECC), one in eight women will have this type of cancer at some time in their lives.

Sistemas Genómicos is working to detect breast cancer and help patients get diagnosed as early as possible, boosting their chances of survival if they do develop the disease. To do so, they have BRECANRISK, a personalised non-invasive test to determine how prone a woman is to developing sporadic breast cancer, which establishes her risk of having the disease at some time in her life. The test includes genotype and phenotype factors, including mammographic density, as well as family history and other reproductive aspects, among other risk factors. 

“The steady increase in scientific knowledge that allows us to better describe the mechanics behind breast cancer helps our mathematical algorithm integrate all of this information on an ongoing basis, learning from each experience, in order to better identify which women have a high risk of suffering breast cancer among the general population,” explained Andrea Ceba Peris of the R&D Projects Unit. “Introducing this innovative test would be a great advance in current breast cancer screening programmes. Given that integrating this method into healthcare system like the one in Spain would make it possible to incorporate personalised medicine for early diagnosis of breast cancer,” concluded Juan Carlos Triviño Pardo, head of the Bioinformatics Unit.


Foto: Kras-Driven Lung Cancer. Created by Eric Snyder, 2015 / Unsplash

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Head of Communication and Content

Agathe Cortes


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Who we are 

AseBio brings together more than 290 entities and represents the Spanish biotechnology sector as a whole. Its mission is to lead the transformation of the country, positioning science, innovation and especially biotechnology as an engine of economic growth and social welfare. Its members include companies, associations, foundations, universities, technology and research centres that carry out their activities directly or indirectly related to biotechnology in Spain.