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In September of this year, and after 9 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, he was appointed Managing Director of the Medical Directorate and R&D at Boehringer Ingelheim Spain.

In the month that World Lung Cancer Day is celebrated, we spoke with the executive about the company’s commitment to research in this field, and the commitment that Boehringer Ingelheim is making to promote therapeutic innovations in different types of cancer on the basis of scientific collaboration.

In September 2021, you joined Boehringer Ingelheim as Managing Director of the Medical and R&D Directorate. In Spain, what future challenges do you face in this new stage?

Oncology is a critical area for society and science. In the next 10 years the incidence and mortality will continue to increase, despite the great speed of innovation in this area. We need to challenge the mechanisms of action and pathophysiological avoidance of cancer, and at BI we are risking the therapeutic strategy with new routes of action, biomarkers and combinations. We are challenged to accelerate our value chain and innovation, cancer will always be a race against time for the patient.

In November, oncology is part of the news due to the celebration of different congresses and international events. What is Boehringer Ingelheim’s strategy in this area?

We need to continue to revolutionize oncology, think differently and seek new avenues of action. Furthermore, there are still tumor types with very little innovation, such as sarcomas or digestive tumors, and patients receive very mature therapies with relatively few benefits. In recent years there has been a paradigm shift in cancer treatment and much progress has been made in precision oncology; the development of new less invasive diagnostic techniques and the identification of new biomarkers. At Boehringer Ingelheim, we have a strong commitment to innovation, and the collaboration has resulted in pioneering treatments for treating patients with advanced lung cancer. We are now advancing cancer cell targeting agents, multi-pathway immunoncology therapies, and combined approaches for patients with difficult-to-treat tumors.

The company’s commitment to lung cancer patients stands out. What are the main challenges to consider when dealing with the disease?

Lung cancer continues to be one of the four largest (the others are breast, colorectal and prostate) and the one with the highest mortality (80% of patients die within 5 years1). In Spain, a patient with lung cancer dies every 20 minutes. This is because 55% of the disease is diagnosed in advanced stages. Accelerate the development of more sophisticated diagnostic techniques, using new technologies and changes in the care model (screening, computerized tomography or low-dose CT) that help detect the disease in its early stages; and advance in the development of drugs that allow to act more effectively on specific therapeutic targets, with the aim of improving survival and quality of life of patients, in addition to preventing disease progression, continues to be a priority when we talk about lung cancer.

What is the therapeutic outlook for lung cancer patients with advanced or metastatic disease?

Lung cancer has been one of the tumors in which personalized medicine has made it possible to give a more evident turn to the approach to patients in advanced stages or with metastatic disease. We have more and more targeted therapies that allow us to act effectively on different types of tumors and specific therapeutic targets. In recent years, we have seen a transformation in the treatment of lung cancer thanks to therapies that target the mutation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or the inclusion of immunotherapy alone or in combination with other drugs.

It has also been in the last decade that Boehringer Ingelheim’s oncology research program has resulted in two new therapeutic innovations: an antiangiogenic, indicated for the treatment of locally advanced, metastatic or locally recurrent non-small cell lung cancer with histology adenocarcinoma; and a 2nd generation TKI, indicated for locally advanced or metastatic NSCLC with activating EGFR mutations.

The therapeutic outlook for patients with advanced lung cancer is promising, we are promoting new advances, which provides a ray of light in terms of survival and quality of life for those affected.

It is becoming more and more frequent to bet on personalized medicine in the first lines of treatment. How has it evolved in recent years?

The therapeutic landscape of cancer has advanced a lot, but science and patients guide us into a new era by attacking the tumor already in its early stages with personalized therapeutic strategies. We have increasing evidence on the efficacy of targeted therapies for different types of tumors in different lines of treatment, which implies that we are expanding the spectrum of therapies available to treat the different stages of cancer. At Boehringer Ingelheim we are focusing on the development of immunoncological treatments and treatments directed at cancer cells to combat this disease. Specifically, with therapies that allow acting on the main triggers of cancer, such as KRAS, B-catenin, P53 and MYC – responsible for more than half of tumors today. Along these lines, we are also evaluating possible vaccines against cancer, oncolytic viruses, activating antibodies to T lymphocytes, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), and modulators of myeloid and stromal cells.

In addition to lung cancer, what other types of cancer is Boehringer Ingelheim developing therapeutic options for?

Our commitment is to continue being a valuable partner for the oncology community. For this reason, our strategy is to offer therapeutic innovations for those types of cancer that are difficult to treat that still have unmet needs. We have a research program that covers a wide variety of tumors, including different types of gastrointestinal tumors – such as gastric, liver, esophagus or pancreatic cancer, among others, as well as stromal tumors, cancer colorectal or anal. We are also obtaining positive results for other types of tumors, although in very early stages. We will have to wait a while to see the fruits of the effort that we are carrying out at the moment, even so, I am convinced that in the future we will be able to announce consolidated results since Boehringer Ingelheim’s commitment to oncology is firm.

In recent months, you have announced numerous alliances with scientific institutions at an international level, what do these types of agreements represent for the company?

To cure cancer in all its forms there is only one way, and that is to seek collective efforts and work in strategic alliances. Collaborating with institutions, universities and biotechnology companies allows Boehringer Ingelheim to complement the potential we have internally, with the high technological capabilities and innovative approaches that are being developed by scientific entities and leading companies around the world. The goal is to accelerate therapeutic innovation so that scientific advances can benefit patients as soon as possible and jointly advance the definition of future cancer treatment.

Currently, at Boehringer Ingelheim we have more than 500 scientists distributed in 6 research centers around the world and with collaboration agreements with more than 30 scientific institutions at an international level. In recent months we have also announced different acquisitions that aim to strengthen our oncology portfolio, among which the most recent, that of the American company Abexxa Biologics, a pioneer in cancer immunology, and Amal Therapeutics, from which we acquired a portfolio focused on in the development of antineoplastic vaccines with a proprietary immunization technology platform that takes advantage of peptide / protein-based vaccination technology.

We have also recently announced our agreement with Amgen to advance the development of therapies targeting KRAS mutations, one of the main causes of the appearance of different types of difficult-to-treat cancers, such as lung, colorectal, or cancer. pancreas.

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This content has been developed by UE Studio, the creative firm of branded content and content marketing of Unidad Editorial, for Boehringer Ingelheim.

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