Every year, more than 420,000 people are diagnosed with cancer. However, nowadays cancer must no longer be a death sentence. A growing number of people can be cured thanks to the progress made in developing new drugs and therapies. However, this has only been made possible through the work of many doctors, biologists and pharmacists who are continually working hard to find new treatment methods and therapies. The Lake Constance region offers a broad range of different cancer therapies and is also home to several institutes and companies that are successfully dealing with cancer research.
The development and production of drugs are also important fields of cancer research. Researchers are working hard to find solutions for the routine application of their results and methods. The pharmaceutical company Nycomed represents this scientific area in the Lake Constance area. The Danish drug producer, which acquired ALTANA Pharma at the end of 2006, focuses on the production, marketing and commercialisation of drugs, but it is also active in research and development. The company has a very modern research centre at its Constance site with more than 600 researchers working in the core competence areas of respiratory, gastrointestinal and other cancers, and is looking for new therapies and developing innovative drugs. Before it was taken over by Nycomed, ALTANA used to successfully work on the development of oncological drugs and a new compound entered the first phase of clinical testing in autumn 2007. The future of oncological research at Nycomed is slightly uncertain because the company does not have plans to continue in this area. It is certain, however, that promising research will continue after the takeover by a partner. The company is also evaluating the possibility of establishing a new biotechnology start-up company for this particular purpose. Despite many findings, new drugs and the introduction of early prevention programmes, cancer is still a great challenge for researchers. It is difficult to “reach a big breakthrough in cancer medicine”, in which cancer therapy progress can only be made in small steps, and hardly ever for all cancers at the same time. However, small steps can also lead to success. And some of these small steps are being made in the Lake Constance area.