Research and Development in the Disease Area of Oncology aims to provide effective cancer therapies through the discovery and development of novel therapeutics that target the specific molecular pathways associated with cancer.
Targeting cancer pathways
Traditionally, anti-cancer drugs have been largely non-specific, and frequently directed against general processes (e.g. metabolism, microtubule dynamics, DNA synthesis) rather than against tumor-specific molecular targets. Although efficacious, these agents are limited, not only by poor response rates but by narrow safety margins. Tumor biology is driven by an iterative process of mutation and selection that results in the acquisition of multiple novel properties by the malignant cells.
Fitting the treatment to the patients
Cancers develop through a complex process of selection for multiple genetic lesions that provide phenotypic advantages for growth, survival, metastasis and drug resistance to tumor cells. Cancer drugs of the future will be designed to modulate specific molecular targets required by the cancer cell. By integrating diagnostic techniques with novel molecular-based therapeutics, we expect to improve efficacy in a number of ways.
Therefore, the future of cancer therapy will rely on the choice of the most appropriate combination of drugs for patients, based on the genetic profile of their tumor. The realisation of such "personalised cancer care" through rational integration of diagnostics and therapeutics is a major focus of Roche Oncology and Diagnostics. Using this paradigm of "fitting the treatment to the patient" Roche will focus on employing innovative genomics tools that will allow us to identify and validate the critical targets for cancer drug discovery and diagnostic development.
With a broad portfolio of tumor markers for prostate, colorectal, liver, ovarian, breast, stomach, pancreatic and lung cancer, as well as a range of molecular oncology tests, Roche will continue to be a leader in providing cancer-focused treatments and diagnostics.
With our expertise in diagnostics, genetics/genomics and drug discovery, Roche is uniquely positioned to continue to drive this trend in oncology and expand our leadership in the field.
This strategy of Oncology at Roche will allow the company to focus discovery efforts on areas where we can provide first-in-class small molecules or novel biologicals — to enhance development through tailored preclinical and clinical profiling.
Planned regulatory filings over the next few years will provide treatment to patients for pancreatic, gastric, non-small cell lung, and prostate cancers, as well as Ewing’s sarcoma.