In the last week of 2023, AstraZeneca PLC AZN agreed to acquire Chinese cancer therapy developer Gracell Biotechnologies Inc. as it continues its efforts to tap pharma innovations from China’s biotech industry. Despite the struggles of Covid-19 stars, Pfizer Inc PFE and Moderna Inc MRNA, their shares are expected to rebound as they enhance their cancer treatment businesses.
AstraZeneca’s Expansion in Oncology
AstraZeneca agreed to acquire the cell therapy developer for as much as $1.2 billion. Oncology is the British drug giant’s biggest business. Last year, it made a third of its sales with its lung cancer treatment Tagrisso under the spotlight. The purchase demonstrates AstraZeneca’s steady focus on expanding its oncology portfolio, which also includes its acquisition of rare-disease therapies from Pfizer Inc PFE. Back in September, AstraZeneca completed the purchase and license agreement for early-stage rare-disease gene therapy portfolio from Pfizer for a total consideration of $1 billion. Also, several of the Pfizer employees associated with the portfolio joined Alexion as employees. With the tools gained from Pfizer, these new resources will build on the combined capabilities of Alexion and AstraZeneca in genomic medicine.
Pfizer’s Reinvention in Oncology
Earlier this month, Pfizer received approval for its $43 billion acquisition of cancer drug maker Seagen and unveiled plans to create a new oncology division. In August, Pfizer also received FDA approval for its blood cancer therapy Elrexfio, targeting multiple myeloma, a difficult-to-treat cancer.
Moderna’s Breakthrough in Cancer Vaccine
Moderna and Merck developed an experimental cancer vaccine to be used with Merck’s blockbuster treatment Keytruda, showing promising results. Latest data from December revealed that the combined treatment significantly reduced the risk of deadly skin cancer melanoma returning after three years by 49% compared to Keytruda alone. And it also reduced the risk of melanoma spreading to other parts of the body by as much as 62% over the same time frame. The companies are also testing the treatment protocol for other cancer types, including non-small lung cancer.
However, progress in cancer prevention and early detection is also noteworthy. Mainz Biomed MYNZ, a molecular genetics diagnostic company specialized in early cancer detection, reported optimistic results for its flagship product, ColoAlert®, with high sensitivity and specificity for colorectal cancer. These positive results confirmed the product’s efficacy and ease of use.
2023 stands as the year when AstraZeneca, Mainz Biomed, Pfizer, Moderna, and Merck demonstrated their commitment to redefining cancer treatment, paving the way for potentially groundbreaking advancements in oncology.
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