Friday, August 30, 2013

Monoclonal Antibodies

The Motley Fool investing website has another lymphoma-related article up. This one talks about investment opportunities in companies that create and market monoclonal antibodies.

Of course, the lymphoma connection comes in the discussion about Roche, owner of My Old Pal Rituxan. Apparently, Rituxan generates about $7 billion in sales every year, more than Roche's other big MABs, Avastin, which discourages blood vessel growth in solid cancers, and Herceptin, which has made such a difference for so many breast cancer patients.

A couple of thoughts on this:

First, I found it kind of amazing that Rituxan sales were so high. But I guess it makes sense. Rituxan is used in a bunch of B cell Lymophomas, not just Follicular Lymphoma, but also some leukemias, as well as autoimmune diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, and Lupus. Pretty impressive little MAB there.

That also gets me thinking about difficult it has been to find another MAB that trumps Rituxan. There really isn't anything approved yet that shows huge gains over Rituxan in terms of effectiveness. At some point, I have to wonder if we've plateaued on MABs for Follicular Lymphoma, and maybe we need to turn our attention elsewhere. (When I say "our," of course, I mean "researchers." We're all in this together.)

That said, there are still a ton of MABs for Follicular Lymphoma (and other blood cancers) in various stages of development, and it will take years before they are fully developed and explored in combination with other treatments, so I don't want to jump the gun.

Finally, I still have mixed feelings about people profiting off of my cancer, but I know I need to get over that. Treatments take many years and millions of dollars to develop, so there needs to be some incentive for people to pony up the money to make that happen. A friend of mine, a liver cancer survivor, told me he made a bundle on a treatment that was in trial. He was rejected for the trial, which upset him, because he was sure the treatment was going to take off. So he invested in the company anyway, and early trial results gave him a nice profit -- and some satisfaction.

So I hope other MABs, and other Follicular Lymphoma treatments, make someone a ton of money. That can only mean they're working.

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