It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day.

These powerful words in one of my favorite songs (“Feeling Good”) by American Singer Nina Simone, remind me of what is happening in the development of targeted therapies and personalized medicine against cancer and hematological diseases. New research has indeed brought us closer to the dawn of a new era.

Photo Courtesy:  The Netherlands National Archives, and Spaarnestad Photo, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands license.
Nina Simone in 1965. 

In the past 5 years new therapeutic strategies and treatment options have substantially broadened beyond the traditional approaches. These new approaches include the use of highly potent target drugs, such as Antibody-drug Conjugates (ADCs) and Immune Checkpoint Modulators, with novel mechanisms of action which have shown to improve the survival benefit of many patients with cancer.[1]

The discovery and development of these novel treatment options is a complex and arduous process – but, when successful, also very rewarding. And long-term basic scientific research is, indeed, increasing our understanding of the biology of cancer.

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Noteworthy news, for example, was presented at the 15th Annual Targeted Therapies of Lung Cancer Meeting in Santa Monica, California, USA (February 18 – 21, 2015), an invitation-only meeting gathering the top medical scientists and researchers to discuss the latest advances in the treatment of lung cancer with targeted therapies. Updated results from a trial with sacituzumab govitecan (IMMU-132), an investigational antibody-drug conjugate being developed by Immunomedics Inc, showed that 33% of patients with small cell lung cancer or SCLC and 31% with non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC had their tumor reduced in size by 30% or more, after being treated with the trial drug.[2] Unrelated to this trial, the drug received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  fast track designation for the treatment of patients with triple-negative breast cancer.[3]

But what does this mean for patients? Advanced lung cancer is difficult to treat. Hence, these early efficacy results are, therefor, very encouraging. It shows the results of the hard work and the exciting – and rewarding – breakthroughs that are leading to novel therapeutic options – offering patients a real survival benefit.

Progress is being made: New clinical trials are being implemented to assess the therapeutic potential of novel therapies. These targeted therapies, currently the focus of much anticancer drug development work, are the cornerstone of precision medicine, which is changing how we treat cancer today and in the (near) future.

In the words of Nina Simone, This Old World is a New World. And a Bold World.

That’s what I mean.

This blog article appeared as part of the March 2014 ADC Review / Journal of Antibody-drug Conjugates newsletter.  Click here to read the newsletter.

Photo: Nina Simone in 1965. Photo Courtesy:  The Netherlands National Archives, and Spaarnestad Photo, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands license. Featured Image: Sunrise.  Courtesy: Space Nature BV. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Netherlands license.

“Feeling Good”, also known as “Feelin’ Good” is a song written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse for the 1964 musical “The Roar Of The Greasepaint—The Smell Of The Crowd” and has since been recorded by many artists, including  Sammy Davis Jr., Bobby Darin, Michael Bublé, George Michael, Toše Proeski, Frank Sinatra Jr., and Adam Lambert.  Perhaps the most famous version was recorded by Nina Simone, and first appeared on her 1965 album “I Put A Spell On You.”Simone’s version is also featured in the 1993 film “Point Of No Return“, in which the protagonist uses the code name ‘Nina’ and professes to be a longtime fan of Simone’s music.

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