At Ipsen, our licensed medicines and R&D cover a range of therapeutic areas. However, all are focused on curing disease and relieving suffering, hoping to bring real value to the healthcare community.
Our primary focus lies in three main areas: oncology (cancers), neurosciences (diseases of the nervous system and the use of therapeutic neurotoxins) and rare diseases.
Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer, with someone in Ireland receiving a cancer diagnosis every 3 minutesi,ii. Ipsen is committed to developing new treatments with the ability to improve and extend lives of those affected.
iCancer Research UK: Cancer Incidence Statistics UK. Available here. Accessed January 2022.
iiIrish Cancer Society: Cancer Statistics. Available here. Accessed January 2022.
Tackling cancer head-on
Although often talked about generally, ‘cancer’ describes a diverse range of diseases (over 200 different types of cancer exist)i. Each type of cancer is typically characterised by the presence of abnormal cells that divide in an uncontrollable wayii. Some cancers can be surgically removed or treated successfully, particularly if they are detected early. However, for people with advanced or complicated cancers, treatment options can be limitediii.
iCancer Research UK: What is Cancer? Available here. Accessed January 2022.
iiCancer Research UK: Cancer Cells. Available here. Accessed January 2022.
iiiCancer Research UK: Treatment for Cancer. Available here. Accessed January 2022.
Areas we work in within oncology
Ipsen’s work in oncology currently focuses on a number of cancer types, looking at where we can add benefit along every step of the treatment pathway and use targeted therapies to address conditions with high unmet needs.
Breast cancer is a major health issue across the UK and Ireland. In 2018 it was the 4th most common cause of cancer death in the UK, with 55,920 new cases of invasive breast cancer reported in the UK every year between 2016-2018 and over 3,600 women diagnosed with breast cancer each year in Irelandi,ii.
The treatment of breast cancer depends on where the cancer is, how big it is, whether it has spread anywhere else in the body, and a patient’s general health. Typical treatment options may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone (endocrine) therapy, targeted cancer medicines and bone strengthening drugsiii.
Ipsen works to provide effective treatment options for women with breast cancer, including those looking to help prevent the return of their cancer once it is in remission.
Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death in males in the UK. In 2018 there were around 11,900 deaths, accounting for 13% of all male cancer deaths in the UK, with 52,254 new cases reported in the UK between 2016-2018i. In Ireland, 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, with approximately 3,890 men diagnosed each yearii.
The treatment of prostate cancer depends on how big it is, where the cancer is and whether it has spread anywhere else in the body, and the patient’s general health. Typical treatments may include active surveillance and watchful waiting, surgery, external or internal radiotherapy, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and other options.iii
Ipsen support men with prostate cancer through the development of new therapies, including for patients whose cancer may have spread (locally advanced/metastatic).
Renal cell carcinoma
Renal cell carcinoma is the most common type of kidney cancer in adults, accounting for over 80% of casesi. Between 2016 and 2018 there were 13,322 new cases of kidney cancer each year in the UK, with 4,631 deathsii. In Ireland, almost 700 people each year are diagnosed with kidney cancer, with 9 out of 10 kidney cancers being renal cell canceriii,iv.
The treatment received depends on the stage and type of kidney cancer. A multidisciplinary team of doctors and other professionals will discuss the best treatment for kidney cancer patients, however surgery is the main treatment for kidney cancers that have not spread to another part of the bodyv.
Ipsen focus is to primarily help deliver treatment options for people with renal cell carcinoma whose cancer has spread and is incurable.
iCancer Research UK: Kidney Cancer – Stages, Types and Grades. Available here. Accessed January 2022
iiCancer Research UK: Kidney Cancer Statistics. Available here. Accessed January 2022
iiiIrish Cancer Society: Kidney Cancer. Available here. Accessed January 2022
ivIrish Cancer Society: What are the types of Kidney Cancer? Available here. Accessed January 2022
vCancer Research UK: Kidney Cancer Treatment Options. Available here. Accessed January 2022
Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs)
A neuroendocrine tumour (NET) is a rare tumour that can develop in many different organs of the body. It affects the cells that release hormones into the bloodstream (neuroendocrine cells). The cause of NETs is not fully understood and the treatment is dependent on individual patient circumstances including where the tumour is, how advanced the patient’s condition is and the patient’s overall health.i
Surgery is the main treatment for NETs, with somatostatin analogues, targeted cancer drugs, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other options being used too.ii
Ipsen has sought to find solutions to help patients and doctors better manage NETs, including for cases where the disease may be indolent and require tumour and symptom control.
Medullary thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer that can spread to different parts of the body, including the liver or lungs. In Ireland, over 250 people are diagnosed with thyroid cancer every yeari. Nearly 2% of thyroid cancers are medullary thyroid cancer in the UK and roughly a quarter are caused by an inherited faulty geneii.
Surgery is the most common treatment for thyroid cancer, either completely removing the thyroid (total thyroidectomy) or partially (lobectomy or partial thyroidectomy). Once the disease is more advanced, a patient could be eligible for other types of therapyiii.
Primary liver cancer is cancer that started in the liver. There are 5 main types but hepatocellular carcinoma (also called hepatoma or HCC) is the most common type. This type of liver cancer develops from the main liver cells called hepatocytes. It’s more common in people who have a damaged liver from cirrhosis (scarring of the liver due to previous damage, such as from the hepatitis B or C virus or long term alcoholic drinking)i.
Incidence rates for liver cancer are projected to rise by 38% in the UK between 2014 and 2035, to 15 cases per 100,000 people by 2035. This means new treatment options may become increasingly importantii. In Ireland, around 350 people are diagnosed with liver cancer each year, however the numbers of primary liver cancers increased by over 300% from 1994 to 2014iii,iv.
iCancer Research UK: Liver Cancer Types. Available here. Accessed January 2022
iiCancer Research UK: Liver Cancer Statistics. Available here. Accessed January 2022
iiiIrish Cancer Society: Liver Cancer. Available here. Accessed January 2022
ivNational Cancer Registry Ireland: Cancer Trends No.31, Primary Liver Cancer. Available here. Accessed January 2022
At Ipsen we have pioneered research in the area of neuroscience for decades and remain committed to providing patients with innovative therapeutic solutions.
Searching for solutions to debilitating neurological conditions
Neurological conditions are disorders of the brain, spinal cord and/or nerves. They can be caused by a variety of factors, such as genetic factors, traumatic injuries/accidents, the environment or infections. The causes of some of these conditions are still not well understoodi.
Some of these conditions are debilitating and many of them can severely affect a person’s quality of life.
iThe Neurological Alliance: Living with a Neurological Condition. Available here. Accessed January 2022
Areas we work in within neuroscience
A primary focus at Ipsen is progressing the development of new medicines in the treatment of neurological disorders.
Our work in neurology is wide-ranging, with much of our research focused on improving the care of people who experience debilitating movement disorders.
Blepharospasm is the name given to involuntary spasms of the muscles around the eyelids, causing the lids to flutter, blink or twitch uncontrollably. The cause is unknown, but blepharospasm is normally more common in people over 50 years old. In severe cases, a person may be unable to open their eyes due to the excessive eyelid spasms, impacting their daily lifestylei.
Ipsen’s research into this area looks to block the nerve impulse at the junction between the nerve and the muscle, reducing the uncontrollable muscular contractions of the eyelids.
Cerebral palsy is the name for a group of lifelong conditions that affect both co-ordination and movement. It is caused by a brain problem that can develop before, during or soon after birth.
The severity of the symptoms can vary significantly, with some experiencing minor problems and others being severely disabled. When a baby is first born the symptoms of cerebral palsy are not usually obvious, however become noticeable during the child’s first 2-3 years of life.
Currently there is no cure for cerebral palsy, however treatments are available to help people have independent and active lifestyles as much as possiblei.
Ipsen’s work in the area of cerebral palsy helps to address some of the symptoms of this debilitating condition, with a focus on the treatment of spasticity in children.
Cervical dystonia is a neurological movement disorder characterised by continuous or intermittent muscle contractions which cause abnormal, often painful, repetitive movements of the neck and head. The movements can lead to the head and neck twisting (torticollis) or being pulled forwards (antecollis), backwards (retrocollis) or sideways (laterocollis)i.
Ipsen supports the treatment of patients with cervical dystonia through medicines which act to block the nerve impulse between the nerve and the muscle, reducing the contractions.
Hemifacial spasm is characterised by intermittent, painless and involuntary muscle contractions innervated by the facial nerve. Only one side of the face is affected, and it may start by only affecting the muscles around the eye before spreading to the entire half of the face, e.g the cheek and mouth, creating an involuntary face twitch on one side of your facei.
Treatments similar to that of blepharospasm have been developed that block the nerve impulses between the nerves and muscles, to reduce the muscle contraction.
Spasticity is a physiological condition where there is an abnormal increase in muscle tone or stiffness of muscle. Spasticity is usually caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord and may typically occur following a stroke or head trauma. Additionally, the condition is associated with cerebral palsy. The condition can result in movement or speech interference and be associated with discomfort or paini.
Ipsen has pioneered research in this area to develop treatments that aim to reduce muscular contractions.
In the EU, a disease is considered to be a rare disease when the number of people affected is no more than 1 person in 2,000.i Ipsen is committed to translating scientific progress into clinically meaningful medicines for people suffering from rare conditions.
iEuropean Union: EU Research on Rare Diseases. Available here. Accessed January 2022
Addressing areas of unmet need
Ipsen’s work in rare diseases currently focuses on a number of endocrine diseases, looking at how we can address areas of high unmet need for people affected by hormone and metabolic imbalances.
The endocrine system is comprised of a series of glands, which are each responsible for secreting a specific type of hormone into the bloodstream. These hormones have vital functions including how we balance fluid and salt in our blood vessels, maintain blood pressure, control of growth and reproduction. Endocrine diseases occur when these glands make either too more or too little of their respective hormone, or if a gland grows and develops tumours within themi.
iBarts Health NHS Trust: Endocrinology. Available here. Accessed January 2022
Areas we work in within rare diseases
Ipsen continues to develop innovative medicines in rare diseases to address conditions with high unmet needs, with specific investment in pituitary pathologies and growth disorders.
Acromegaly is a rare condition caused by excess production of growth hormone by the pituitary gland, resulting in body tissues and bones growing more quicklyi. About 2-4 people in a million develop acromegaly each year in the UK. The condition can cause a wide range of symptoms, however acromegaly literally means ‘enlarged extremities’ with large hands and feet a typical feature, however there are many other symptoms which usually progress slowly over time, including thickened vocal cords, facial changes (e.g. thickened lips and nose) and enlarged tongueii.
Precocious puberty refers to the onset of puberty at an abnormally early age; before age 8 in girls, and 9 in boys. It is not always clear what causes early puberty, however it can be a familial tendency.
Medical treatment for early puberty looks at addressing the underlying cause or using medication to reduce hormone levels to pause sexual development for a few years, to provide psychological stability.i
Growth hormone and IGF-1 deficiency
Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and signals the liver to develop insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). In children affected by growth hormone (or IGF-1) deficiency, growth slows down or stops from the age of 2 or 3 years onwards. The condition is diagnosed via blood tests and measuring specific hormone levels in the blood, in addition to the close monitoring of height to compare a child’s growth with average rates for children of the same age and gender. Growth hormone/IGF-1 deficiency is treated by replacing the missing hormone with a synthetic version i.
Turner’s Syndrome is a female only genetic disorder which causes girls to have only one normal X sex chromosome, rather than two. This variation happens randomly when a baby is conceived.i
1 in every 2,000 baby girls are affected by Turner’s Syndrome and are typically shorter than average with underdeveloped ovaries, resulting in a lack of monthly periods and infertility. Other symptoms associated with Turner’s Syndrome include facial feature changes (e.g. drooping eyelids and crowding of the teeth), skin features (e.g. occurrence of moles and presence of obvious blood vessels) as well as bone features (e.g. short fingers and nail changes).i,ii
Other therapeutic areas
Other therapeutic areas
Every day we strive to support positive change for patients and health services across the UK, working in close partnership to deliver meaningful results. At Ipsen, our licensed medicines and R&D cover a range of therapeutic areas.
We are committed to improving quality of life for patients and discovering new solutions for targeted debilitating diseases.
Other therapeutic areas we work within
- Endometriosis: affects approximately 1.5 million women in the UKi
- Uterine fibroids: estimated to affect at least 1 in 2 women in their lifetime, if not moreii
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the womb (endometrium) is found outside the womb, such as in the ovaries and fallopian tubesi. This condition is the second most common gynaecological condition in the UK, however there is no definite cure for endometriosis, but treatments are availableii.
Ipsen’s work in this area aims to relieve symptoms of the condition to prevent it interfering with daily life.
Fibroids (also called uterine myomas or leiomyomas) are benign growths of the womb and fibrous tissue, whose development is influenced by sex hormones, in particular oestrogen. At least 1 in 2 women develop one or more fibroids in their lifetime. They usually develop in women aged 30-50 and can sometimes run in families.
The majority of fibroids are asymptomatic and therefore require no treatment. However, when fibroids cause discomfort for patients, there are several treatment options to alleviate symptomsi.
Ipsen supports people affected by fibroids by finding ways to minimise symptoms and help patients live better lives.