Cancer is one of the most pressing health issues globally. Research in oncology is continually expanding and developing rapidly. In this field, there many subcategories of exploration including, but not limited to: diagnostics, treatment, pain management, safety, effectiveness, and continuing education for health professionals. One of the most current and popular topics is cancer immunotherapy.
AHF has convened consensus conferences of regional oncology experts to cover a broad range of topics:
AHF Convenes a Consensus on Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC) in Latin America
In November 2017, the Americas Health Foundation (AHF) convened a meeting of six Latin American experts to review MCC in the Region, including oncologists, dermato-oncologists and pathologists, to validate available data on the burden of illness and develop recommendations for increasing the early diagnosis, treatment, quality of life and optimal management of MCC in the Region.
The Use of Biomarkers in Immuno-oncology Therapies in Latin America
Biomarkers have many potential applications in oncology, including risk assessment, screening, differential diagnosis, determination of prognosis, prediction of response to treatment, and monitoring of progression of disease. Because of the critical role that biomarkers play at all stages of disease, it is important to develop guidelines that will increase the use of biomarkers in immuno-oncology therapies, while ensuring that they undergo the appropriate evaluations, including analytical validation, clinical validation, and assessment of clinical utility, prior to incorporation into routine clinical care.
In November 2017, the Americas Health Foundation (AHF) convened a meeting of six Latin American key opinion leaders in the fields of immuno-oncology, health economics, and regulatory aspects to develop recommendations for increasing the use of biomarkers in immuno-oncology therapies in Latin America.
The resulting paper, “The Value of Biomarkers in Optimizing the Use of Immuno-oncologic Therapy,” was accepted for publication in the Journal of Cancer Policy.
Increasing Access to Immuno-oncology Therapies in Brazil
Immuno-oncology therapies activate the immune system, making it able to recognize cancer cells and destroy them and are expected to become an important part of cancer therapy in years to come. However, the science of immuno-oncology is still evolving. Brazil is a country uniquely primed with both opportunities and strengths for clinical oncology research. Among its strengths, the country counts with growing access to information, an unfortunately high cancer burden, improving patient education, access to new drugs for research centers, regional networks and human resources. In June, AHF convened a meeting of six Brazilian key opinion leaders in the fields of immuno-oncology, health economics, and regulatory aspects to develop recommendations for increasing access to immuno-oncology therapies in Brazil. The resulting article, "Increasing Access to Immuno-oncology Therapies in Brazil" is currently under review for publication.
Companion Diagnostics in Oncology
Companion diagnostics (CDx) are tests being developed to identify patients most likely to benefit from specific treatments based on their own genetic makeup and biology. In the case of oncology, CDx and related pharmacological-based interventions could improve the predictability of the oncology drug development process and become an important tool for oncologists in choosing the optimal treatment for specific patient groups or sub-groups. While regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency are now actively encouraging the use of CDx and related pharmacological-based interventions in the development and use of prescription drugs, clear and harmonized guidelines have yet to be developed in Brazil, Latin America’s largest markets.
As a result, the Americas Health Foundation (AHF) planned, organized and convened a meeting of 6 Brazilian experts on CDx and related pharmacological-based interventions in the area of oncology in Miami, Florida to review existing barriers and develop practical recommendations concerning policy fixes for the use of companion diagnostics and personalized medicines for oncology in Brazil. The goal of this meeting was to stimulate early collaborations that will result in faster access to promising new treatments for patients with serious and life-threatening diseases. The resulting paper, entitled "Brazilian health-care policy for targeted oncology therapies and companion diagnostic testing," was published as a policy review on July 27, 2016 in the Lancet Oncology. Click here for a link to the full article, and click here to see the press release.