In China and across the world, cancer is becoming the number one cause of death in humans.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), under the World Health Organization (WHO), released its latest estimates of the global cancer burden in 2020 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. It states that with the rapid growth and aging of the population, the number of cancer incidents and deaths worldwide is increasing rapidly, and cancer will become the leading cause of death in the 21st century. It will become the most important obstacle to increased life expectancy in countries around the world.
Malignant tumors have also become one of the major public health problems that seriously threaten the health of the Chinese people. The National Cancer Center has released a set of data stating that in 2015, there were about 3.929 million malignant tumor cases and more than 2 million deaths in China. That means that on average, more than 10,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every day. The annual medical costs caused by malignant tumors are over 220 billion RMB, and the situation regarding prevention and control is now very serious. Cancer has become the number one killer in China, and from a global perspective, the cancer situation around the world is equally serious.
Cancer has shaken the nerves of the public, but with the continuous global development of technology, the application of precision medical technological treatments, based on genetic testing, has made it possible to tame this stubborn disease that so threatens human life.
Getting the U.S. FDA’s annual new drug approval status is usually a standard for new drug development. Along with the rapid progress of tumor precision therapy, new anti-tumor targeted drugs and immune system drugs have been released, and genetic testing for tumors also plays an increasingly important role as a prerequisite for precision therapy.
In November 2018, for the first time in history, the FDA approved the marketing of larotrectinib, an “open-ended” drug, for the treatment of adult and pediatric patients with locally advanced or metastatic solid tumors, carrying NTRK gene fusions. This was an exciting milestone in the history of oncology treatment and represented an important step in the evolution of cancer therapy from being “based on the origin of the cancer in the body” to “based on the genetic characteristics of the tumor”. Genetic testing has become an essential part of this process.
According to IQVIA, if the right tumor markers are included in clinical trials of oncology drugs, the clinical investment will be reduced by 8% over the next 5 years, while the trial efficiency and success rate will be increased by 34% and 27% respectively.
The development of innovative oncology drugs has accelerated the development of gene sequencing companies, while next-generation gene sequencing technology and the genetic data of tumors will also drive the process of new drug development, thus promoting innovation in the field of oncology precision medicine.
Currently, a large number of startups worldwide are emerging in the field of high-throughput gene sequencing (NGS), with the two markets of China and the United States being particularly prominent. As the most advanced genetic technology country in the world, the U.S. has given birth to a number of leading companies in the field of genetic testing. Chinese startups are also catching up in this field, with a large number of scientists, who have international experience in various projects.
In China, the number of tumor patients has reached more than 15 million, and the number of new patients is now nearly 4 million per year, while the penetration rate of next-generation sequencing genetic testing for tumors is still less than 10%. On the one hand, as a major country with tumor problems, the Chinese people need more advanced technology and ideas to fight against these persistent diseases; on the other hand, with the policies being promoted, for example, the China’s 13th Five-Year Plan and the introduction of the policy of “precision medicine”, the penetration rate of genetic testing for tumors is expected to show rapid growth. The tumor genetic testing market is expected to enter an explosive period in the next 3 to 5 years.