Research shows nearly every sixth death in the world is due to the disease, making it the second leading cause of death behind cardiovascular diseases.

The global pharmaceutical industry is estimated at an astounding $1.11 trillion in size. Every year, billions are spent on the research and development of cancer drugs, with numerous trials conducted in an attempt to find a cure for various types of cancer. Only a small percentage will gain regulatory approval to be used by patients to treat disease and improve quality of life.

A number of well-known global pharmaceutical giants such as AstraZeneca plcPfizer Inc.Roche Holdings AG Basel ADR  and Novartis AG are huge players.

The difference between biopharmaceuticals and traditional pharmaceuticals is the method by which the drugs are produced.

Biopharmaceuticals are manufactured in living organisms such as bacteria, yeast and mammalian cells, while pharmaceuticals are manufactured through chemical synthesis.

AstraZeneca’s new cancer research chief José Baselga has said he wants the company to prioritize early stage cancers over advanced disease when developing new cancer drugs, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The following is a look at biopharmaceutical companies working on cures for cancer. 

Can-Fite Biopharma Ltd develops treatments for autoimmune inflammatory diseases and cancer. The company’s liver cancer study of the drug namodenoson was recently selected by the International Liver Cancer Association conference.

A Phase 3 trial for namodenoson in advanced liver cancer is now in the works.

ESSA Pharma Inc. engages in the development of small-molecule drugs for prostate cancer. The company recently acquired the U.S. biopharmaceutical company Realm Therapeutics plc NASDAQRLM. 

Merck & Co., Inc. is recognized for its cancer research and recently announced it will acquire the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Peloton Therapeutics for $1.05 billion cash upfront and a further $1.15 billion in if certain regulatory and sales milestones are reached. The company is committed to accelerating the development of candidates targeting HIF-2α to help patients with advanced cancers and other diseases. 

Genocea Biosciences is a biopharmaceutical company developing personalized cancer immunotherapies. The company recently announced that the Journal of Clinical Oncology has selected the company’s GEN-009 clinical results presentation at the 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting as a top 10 featured abstract in immuno-oncology. 

Heat Biologics Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company developing therapies designed to activate a patient’s immune system against cancer. 

Synlogic, Inc. is a clinical-stage company applying synthetic biology to beneficial microbes to develop novel, living medicines. The company recently announced a platform collaboration to speed up the development of Synlogic’s pipeline of synthetic biotic medicines using Ginkgo’s cell programming platform.

Synthetic biotic medicines are microbes genetically engineered to counter the biology that drives diseases such as hyperammonemia and forms of cancer. 

Xynomic Pharmaceuticals Holdings, Inc. is a clinical stage Sino-American oncology drug development company. The company recently held a pre-IND meeting with the Food and Drug Administration for its pan-PAF inhibitor XP-102 for the treatment of cancer.

Xynomic said it’s on track to file an Investigational New Drug application in the second half of 2019. XP-102 holds potential as an innovative therapy against B-RAF V600 mutated solid tumors including CRC and non-small cell lung cancer and hairy cell leukemia.

BridgeBio Pharma focuses on identifying and advancing transformative medicines to treat diseases that arise from defects in a single gene, and for cancers with clear genetic drivers. 

Pharmaceutical company Array BioPharma Inc’s two drugs, Braftovi and Mektovi, are approved to treat skin cancer patients with certain genetic alterations. The company recently announced that investors may have to wait longer for results from Array’s BeaconCRC colon cancer study.

Pfizer is a well-known American multinational pharmaceutical corporation. The company recently received approval from the European Commission for TALZENNA, a breast cancer drug.

The medicine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2018. In June, Pfizer announced it would acquire Array BioPharma for $48 per share in cash for a total of around $11.4 billion.

These are only a handful of the companies tackling the disease. Cancer is a global issue, and remedies are being developed in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America. 

The cure for cancer is possible, and for the optimistic observer, it’s not a question of if, but when.

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