By Dr. Frank Grossman
Gastric cancer is an aggressive disease with largely unmet medical needs. Every year, approximately 200,000 patients are diagnosed with gastric cancer in the European Union and the United States.
Up until now, stomach tumors are only diagnosed in late stages with a very inaccurate macroscopic-endoscopic examination that captures location, tumor size and offers histological confirmation.
Treatment options are limited and very expensive, invasive and painful. To ensure adequate elimination, a massive resection of the stomach has to be performed, independently of the size of the lesions. Additionally, patients have to undergo a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or immune therapy, which have severe side effects. Patients’ quality of life is severely compromised and their five-year survival rate is below 20%.
These facts show the imminent need for new screening techniques that allow for early and reliable diagnosis of gastric cancers and an affordable treatment with increased survival rates.
Small biotech companies and start-ups are driving innovation in Orphan (rare) disease
Orphan Drugs have exciting growth rates driven by regulatory benefits such as extended marketing exclusivity, tax benefits and accelerated approval procedures. In the past years this has led to increased interest by large pharmaceutical companies to enter into this area. Nevertheless, innovation in this field is still driven by small, independent and innovative biotech companies.
One of them is Orphanbiotec, a socially responsible, research-based pharmaceutical enterprise specializing in rare diseases. The company is currently working on a project that could revolutionize the treatment of gastric cancer.
Orphanbiotec‘s research pursues a smart photodynamic approach that combines cancer selectivity with anticancer mechanisms. It allows for early detection of gastric cancer through the selective delivery of diagnostic imaging. The therapy agent removes malignant tumors while sparing healthy tissues.
Orphanbiotec’s approach represents a paradigm shift in cancer treatment for patients and medical specialists. Studies in Japan suggest that early diagnosis of gastric cancer would increase the survival rates to 98%.
There are several major advantages of this new approach compared to today’s treatment:
1. Accurate and early detection of cancer at an early stage
2. Studies show that early detection and treatment can increase the survival rate to up to 98% (compared to only 20% at present)
3. Diagnosis and treatment is minimally invasive – no need for surgery.
4. The tumor is removed completely without damaging any healthy tissue.
5. No radiation therapy or chemotherapy is needed
6. Quality of life is massively improved
7. Duration and cost of treatment are much smaller compared to today’s treatment
This approach, which is being developed together with the Steinbeis Center Heidelberg and the University of Zurich, also opens up possibilities for the development of additional therapies.
Opportunity for Impact Investors
Having funded the initial research and development through a grant from the Swiss Federal Commission for Technology and Innovation CTI, the next steps of the project development are to be financed through impact investment. This allows socially committed investors worldwide to participate and invest in the development of new innovative treatments and help patients in a sustainable manner. Another benefit is that all participants turn into a built-in marketing team, which helps to promote the gastric cancer project within a broader network. Orphanbiotec plans to start the impact investment round this autumn.
Find more information at: www.orphanbiotec.com
Editors Note: Dr. Frank Grossmann, DVM, founder and CEO: Frank studied veterinary medicine in Hanover, Germany, worked as a volunteer at an animal hospital in Sydney, Australia, and subsequently as an assistant at the ETH Zurich. There he received his doctorate in metabolic diseases in human physiology together with the University of Zurich. In addition to building a practice, for several years he worked in management positions in the pharmaceutical industry. His diverse functions as manager in regulatory affairs, business development, product management and sales development give him insight into and an overview of the essential tasks. He has been a free lecturer at the ETH Zurich in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. As the founder and initiator of Orphanbiotec he financed and supervises the AG and the Foundation as the director.
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