EPR Podcast Episode 14 – Breast cancer drug development – Markus Kosch, Daiichi Sankyo

Posted: 14 September 2022 | | No comments yet

What unmet need remains in breast cancer and how is drug development helping tackle these challenges? Tune in to this episode with Daiichi Sankyo to find out more.

Despite therapeutic advancement over the last few years, unmet need in breast cancer still remains. In this podcast, Professor Dr Markus Kosch, Head, Oncology Business Division Europe at Daiichi Sankyo, discusses the challenges associated with breast cancer treatment and some of the recent therapeutic developments that may help overcome them – highlighting the potential role of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

What are the unmet medical needs in breast cancer?

Markus explains that breast cancer is still the second most common cancer worldwide, with two million cases diagnosed every year, and continues to be a leading cause of cancer-related deaths as >700,000 women die of the disease each year .1

rofessor Dr Markus Kosch, Head, Oncology Business Division Europe

Professor Dr Markus Kosch, Head, Oncology Business Division Europe

“The medical need is still extremely high… yet stopping the disease has proved very challenging… unfortunately one in three women still progresses to a metastatic state.2 While there have been many significant advancements over the last years in metastatic breast cancer, one key challenge is that most patients will eventually develop resistance and disease progression.3 The mechanisms of resistance appear to be different for various molecules and treatment approaches, so as we descend the ladder of lower and later resistance, there has been always one more step, and that is where now the key medical need for those women is,” he comments.

How are therapeutic modalities developing to rise to the needs of breast cancer patients?

“What I find so fascinating about specifically breast cancer research, there is a lot of movement and innovation going on,” commented Markus, adding: “what is most important with any innovation is that it actually serves the patients, it is important that treatments and care improve their quality of life while extending it.” 

“I am happy to say that emerging innovations in cancer research today hold the potential to dramatically improve cancer patient care. Next to other innovations, like CAR [chimeric antigen receptor] T and cell and gene therapies… antibody-drug conjugates, I believe, have the potential to really make a difference in cancer treatment moving forward.”4,5

“So-called ADCs are targeted cancer medicines that combine target specificity and anti-tumour activity in a single molecule,” he explains. The idea combines specific targeting of proteins expressed on the surface of cancer cells a very very potent therapy. “So you deliver a very potent therapy very specifically to cancer cells, while avoiding collateral damage to healthy cells. This targeted approach has contribute to growing optimism around the utility in many cancers with solid tumours,” Markus notes.

What could the future of breast cancer care look like?

“So, cancer touches many people… every second person of our generation will face the diagnosis of a malignant disease through their lifetime.6 Due to the progress that we have made, many of those affected people will survive, potentially be cured, or live a long time with their disease. So this is why this therapeutic area never sleeps, and we are constantly striving to improve outcomes, innovate, so that one day cancer may not be viewed as a terminal state of health anymore, but potentially more as a chronic disease,” asserts Markus. 

“We believe that systemic disease control is critical to extending survival and delaying especially the development of resistances and further metastasis. The development of new and innovative approaches is really a priority for society,” he adds. 

To hear about the impact of COVID-19 on breast cancer care, why collaboration is among the critical factors for achieving a promising future for cancer care and the therapeutic developments being made by Daiichi Sankyo tune in now!

Please join the conversation and leave your thoughts in the comments – we love hearing your feedback – and look out for our next episode coming soon!


  1. Sung H, Ferlay J, Siegel RL, et al. Global cancer statistics 2020: Globocan estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2021Feb4;71(3):209–49.
  2. Redig AJ, McAllister SS. Breast cancer as a systemic disease: A view of metastasis. Journal of Internal Medicine. 2013Jul12;274(2):113–26.
  3. Barok M, Joensuu H, Isola J. Trastuzumab Emtansine: Mechanisms of action and drug resistance. Breast Cancer Research. 2014Mar5;16(2).
  4. Mounsey LA, Deal AM, Keith KC, et al. Changing natural history of HER2–positive breast cancer metastatic to the brain in the era of new targeted therapies. Clinical Breast Cancer. 2018Feb1;18(1):29–37.
  5. Martínez-Sáez O, Prat A. Current and future management of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer. JCO Oncology Practice. 2021Oct1;17(10):594–604.
  6. Cancer risk statistics [Internet]. Cancer Research UK. 2022 [cited 2022Sep13]. Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/risk