Cancer is one of the most pressing challenges in healthcare, if not the most important challenge in healthcare. Some good news is that the death rate has gone down about 1.5% per year over the last 25 years. In 2018, it decreased by 1.7% which is really great news. Behavioral changes, such as smoking cessation, early detection, and advances in cancer treatment have contributed to the decline. However, cancer is still a serious problem; it is the second leading cause of death in men and women.
Healthcare companies are working on advancing cancer treatment, and one of the most exciting approaches is immunotherapy. In this post, we introduce you to three companies that are moving this treatment forward. Additionally, if you work at an immunotherapy company, continue reading. I provide simple tips for successfully marketing your product and differentiating it from the competition.
What is Immunotherapy?
Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to fight off cancer. Immune cells travel through our bodies looking for anything that doesn’t belong—bacteria, viruses, and even cancer. When the cells find the intruder, they eliminate it.
In some cases, immunotherapy has worked to treat cancer. Why isn’t it always successful? Cancer is devious and has built up ways to protect itself from immune cells, but researchers are working to get around this challenge. Let’s take a look at three companies propelling cancer immunotherapy.
Healthcare Companies Advancing Cancer Treatment
Surface Oncology focusses on altering the space around the outside of a tumor cell known as the tumor microenvironment, which is quite effective at turning off the immune process in the immune cells. Therefore, many patients don’t benefit from cancer therapies, especially in the long term. By opening up the tumor microenvironment through a broad attack, immune cells can now get in. Basically, Surface Oncology’s approach is like neutralizing an enemy position before sending the troops in.
Neon Therapeutics is in the business of advanced immune profiling of cancer patients. By recognizing neoantigens, researchers are better able to bring the fight to cancer. Essentially, they’re building molecular fingerprints that define how each patient’s disease is unique. Like looking for needles in a haystack, this work will direct the therapeutic strategy for each patient. In essence, it’s the right plan for the right patient guided by Google Maps at a molecular level.
Unum Therapeutics’ lead T cell is called ACTR (pronounced “actor”). As part of a novel therapy, ACTR cells are armed, and then they’re combined with specific antibodies to target the cancer cells. These antibodies bind with the tumor cells and label them for attack by the ACTR cells that come in and eradicate them. It’s like a heat-seeking missile out of a Clancy novel.
Tips for Marketing Immunotherapy Companies
While researching the three companies above and others for this article, I began to think about the do’s and don’ts of marketing an immunotherapy-based pharma company via the web.
There was a time that all you had to do was mention the magic word “immunotherapy,” and it was enough to drum up interest and a following. That’s no longer the case, and the field is crowded, with mixed results. To successfully market your brand, you have to distinguish it from the pack. Here are some tips for doing just that with your website:
Share Your Why
In my research, I noticed that some of the messaging was creative but ambiguous. Be sure that you are abundantly clear in communicating who you are as a brand, exactly what you do, and how you do it, as well as the reasons why you do it. Also, tell us how your immunotherapy approach is better than competitors and why we should care. Not enough websites do this.
Interact with Patients
I also noticed that even though most companies were clearly focused in the oncology space, there was little content about patient populations, nor, more importantly, any activity within the patient community. These are the elements that infuse emotion into your brand. I understand there is a fine line between what you set out to do and what you can actually say on behalf of patients. What I’m suggesting is that you get involved in their community and speak about how you are helping them outside of the therapies that may one day change their lives.
Share Your Successes
Finally, it is so important that immunotherapy companies speak to their successes along the way—the steps leading to approval. Keep your audience up to date and front and center. Of course, you must balance optimism with reality, but don’t be silent up to the point of launch. Say what you can, when you can, keeping the brand alive by demonstrating forward motion.
While deaths due to cancer are declining every year, it is still a major killer. Healthcare companies are working to advance cancer treatment using the body’s immune system. Immunotherapy is a promising approach, and we look forward to seeing fewer cancer deaths because of it.
Additionally, as I researched this piece, I realized that some immunotherapy companies could do a better job with their messaging. So, I provided tips for creating content that will differentiate your website from other companies and help you successfully market your immunotherapy.
Is Your Company Developing Immunotherapies to Treat Cancer?
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Facts & Figures 2019: US Cancer Death Rate has Dropped 27% in 25 Years