Evolution of cancer immunotherapies in the health-care innovation systems

Principal applicant: Prof Nazrul Islam

Co-applicants: Dr Alfonso Avila-Robinson, Institute of Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), Kyoto University, Japan

Approximate start date: 15th July 2016

Approximate finish date: 15th December 2016

Total amount requested: £ 5,000

Overview and benefits

The war on cancer was declared in 1971 with the creation of the National Cancer Act in the USA. From then on, traditional cancer therapies (e.g. surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy) have greatly improved the survival rates of patients, albeit at the expense of adverse side effects and risks. Cancer immunotherapy – the use of the immune system to fight cancer – has emerged as a promising, ‘friendlier’ therapeutic approach. Up to now, little is known about the way immunotherapies are coming about and evolving within the context of the traditional Health Innovation System.

There is thus a need for innovation research to understand the emergence and progress of cancer immunotherapies. This proposal sets out to explore the (a) the scientific and technological knowledge landscapes and (b) the components and structure of the emerging biomedical and clinical innovation system building around cancer immunotherapies. The cases of the United Kingdom and Japan are used in this study. Both countries are not only at the forefront of cancer research, but they also share the highest levels of incidence and mortality of cancer diseases. This proposal will be initiated with the mapping of the scientific and technological landscapes of cancer immunotherapy through tech-mining approaches on publications and patents. This will be followed by the study of the use and diffusion of cancer immunotherapies in the UK and Japan through the study of secondary sources of data and the conduction of interviews.

The benefits for the SAM theme within the cluster will be two-fold:

  • The gaining of insights into the way emerging and innovative therapeutic approaches impact health organisations
  • The development of a conceptual and methodological approach which could be replicated in other emerging clinical practices, such as piRNA and microbiome therapeutics.