3 Pharma & Biotech Pipeline Areas To Keep An Eye On In 2018

Although there are still a few days left for the year to end, 2017 has turned out to be pretty good for the pharma and biotech sector where FDA approvals are concerned. Till date, the regulatory agency has given its nod to 43 novel drugs, well above the 22 drugs approved last year. Immuno-oncology was a key focus area in 2017, whether it was to do with scientific conferences, clinical trial collaborations, acquisitions or FDA approvals.

The approval of Novartis’s (NVS - Free Report) Kymriah, a gene cell therapy, and Gilead’s (GILD - Free Report) Yescarta, a CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor T cells) cell treatment, ensured that the highly lucrative immuno-oncology market remained in the limelight.

The $11.9 billion acquisition of immuno-oncology focused Kite by Gilead also increased interest in this category with investors expecting more acquisition announcements in this area.

While we see 2017 as a year focused on immuno-oncology, here is a look at three therapeutic areas that we think will garner a lot of interest in 2018.


Immuno-oncology will remain a key focus area in 2018 as well. The basic concept of cancer immunotherapy or immuno-oncology is to utilize certain parts of the immune system to fight the disease. This can be done by stimulating the immune system to attack cancer cells or by introducing immune system components into the body. While some immuno-oncology treatments have the potential to be effective as monotherapies, others may be more effective when combined with other treatments.

Different types of immunotherapies include monoclonal antibodies/mAbs (man-made versions of immune system proteins which can be designed to attack a very specific part of a cancer cell), immune checkpoint inhibitors (recognize and attack cancer cells), vaccines (help prevent or treat cancer) and others that boost the overall immune system.

Encouraging results generated by some companies demonstrating partial and complete responses in late-stage cancer patients and the recent FDA approval of Kymriah and Yescarta has raised hopes for cancer patients and increased interest in this segment of the cancer market. With immuno-oncology set to change the treatment paradigm for cancer, this area represents huge commercial potential.

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