| News

“Basel has all the ingredients required to host a successful company”

11.06.2018

The physician and pharmacologist Nicole Onetto is a member of the Board of Directors at the Basilea Pharmaceutica AG. In the Interview that was featured in Basilea’s annual report she talks about current challenges in oncology.

Great strides are being made in the long-term treatment of oncology patients. As an oncology expert, what do you find to be the most important advancements in the industry?

Nicole Onetto: We see spectacular results in terms of long-term survival in quite a few diseases where, less than ten years ago, there were no new treatments available. And for many forms of cancer, where previously we had only access to traditional therapies such as surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy, we have been able to take advantage of the new molecular understanding of cancer to personalize the treatment for each patient. This has facilitated the development and the utilization of targeted therapies associated with superior efficacy and reduced toxicity compared to traditional treatments. Finally, in the last few years, we have been able to harness the potential of the immune system to develop new therapeutic approaches which stimulate our own immune defenses to control cancer growth.

What do you see as the next major treatment improvements that may be achieved in the short and mid-term?

Definitely the further development of immune therapies for cancer patients seems more and more important. These new modalities will need to find the right place in the management of patients and will have to be used in combination with more traditional therapies. The cost-effectiveness of these innovative technologies will also need to be evaluated. Another very important topic will be minimizing toxicity of treatments and avoiding over-treatment.

How can companies succeed in clinical development?

With a more personalized approach to cancer treatment, new opportunities do exist to develop drugs associated with high efficacy in well-defined patient populations. However, drug development will always require patience, perseverance and scientific rigor. Many challenges still remain in treating cancer patients, despite the important progress that has been made. Among others issues, drug resistance is a significant hurdle and continues to be in the focus of Basilea. For patients with resistant diseases, not so long ago, the only possible approach was to change to a new drug, often a new chemotherapy. Now we have gained more insight into the mechanisms of resistance. In addition, many researchers all over the world are investigating the best ways to circumvent treatment resistance. Other important factors are collaborations between academia and the private sector such as companies like Basilea, to develop new innovative drugs to benefit patients.

How can this be supported?

The use of biomarkers to help choose the most appropriate treatment regimen and to select the patients with the highest probability of response to treatment has and will continue to have a major impact on the development of new cancer agents. Biomarker data are key to the design of development plans of new drugs and to go/no go decisions. These data are now often incorporated in the approval process and subsequent commercialization of new drugs. This approach, based on scientific evidence to select new drugs, is one of the major advances that are currently transforming the research and development process as well as clinical study methodology.

Do you see advantages for Basilea being located in Basel?

Basel has all the ingredients required to host a successful company: a vibrant research community, an international reputation of excellence in the pharma industry, a pool of talented people and a strong and stable economy. Basel is a leading life-science hub with the presence of an excellent university, the headquarters of established large pharmaceutical companies and many start-ups and innovative ventures. There are many similarities between Basel and the few well established biotechnology hubs in Europe and North America. This favorable environment has already helped Basilea build a very strong company and should continue to support its further success. So I am delighted to have been elected by Basilea’s shareholders as a member of the board and look forward to playing an active role in the Basel biotech community.

About

Dr. Nicole Onetto was elected as a member of the Board of Directors in April 2017. The French and Canadian citizen holds an MD as well as a Master’s Degree of Pharmacology. She is an oncology specialist with a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S., Canada and Belgium. Most recently, she was Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. She currently serves as an independent consultant.

Short version of the interview by courtesy of Basilea Pharmaceutica. For the full interview, please see the annual report.

Share this article

Sign up to receive our newsletter in your inbox.

You might also be interested in

Roche launches new coronavirus antibody test
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Invest

Roche launches new coronavirus antibody test

Roche is launching on the market a new antibody test to determine coronavirus infections. This should help with the development...

Read More
Investors see great potential in Polyneuron
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Invest

Investors see great potential in Polyneuron

The Basel-based company Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals extended its Series A funding round and has now raised a total of 36.5 million...

Read More
Lonza set to manufacture coronavirus drug for Humanigen
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Invest

Lonza set to manufacture coronavirus drug for Humanigen

The Basel-based pharmaceutical supplier Lonza is supporting the US firm Humanigen in the development of a potential coronavirus therapeutic. Lonza...

Read More
Startups from the Basel Area ranked among the best
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Switzerland Innovation Park

Startups from the Basel Area ranked among the best

Startups from the Basel Area have been ranked highly in the TOP 100 Swiss Startup Award by Venturelab. The medtech...

Read More
Roche testing for coronavirus and flu simultaneously
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Invest

Roche testing for coronavirus and flu simultaneously

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the Basel-based life sciences company Roche authorization to use a test that...

Read More
Hengrui Medicine sets up clinical research and development in Basel
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Invest

Hengrui Medicine sets up clinical research and development in Basel

The Chinese life sciences company Hengrui Medicine is establishing a Swiss subsidiary in Basel. The European hub for clinical research...

Read More
Polyphor awarded exclusive licensing agreement for China
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Invest

Polyphor awarded exclusive licensing agreement for China

The Basel Area-based company Polyphor has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Fosun Pharma in China. Fosun Pharma will lead...

Read More
New label guarantees that data remains in Switzerland
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Innovation, Invest

New label guarantees that data remains in Switzerland

With the new “swiss hosting” label, the Basel-based company swiss made software Gmbh is guaranteeing that data will not be...

Read More
Coworking in the Basel Area – An Interview with Karin Crisanto
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Switzerland Innovation Park

Coworking in the Basel Area – An Interview with Karin Crisanto

Karin Crisanto recently joined Basel Area Business & Innovation as Head of Innovation Space and Infrastructure. She previously worked for...

Read More
Switzerland ranked in second place globally
Basel Area Business & Innovation, Invest

Switzerland ranked in second place globally

The chemical and pharmaceutical industry of Switzerland has been ranked number two in the world after the USA in terms...

Read More
1 2 3 21

Do you have a question? We'd like to hear from you.