Perspectives

April 12, 2021

Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Hassan Danesi

April is Esophageal Cancer Awareness Month. In 2020, there were over 38 000 new cases of esophageal cancer in the US1 & EU2. 436 000 deaths due to esophageal cancer globally3. Esophageal cancer is more common among men than women and only 20% of patients survive at least 5 years or more after diagnosis4.

Hassan Danesi, Senior Medical Director, tell us more about his job, his passion for clinical development and trials.

What did you do before Adaptimmune?

I trained as a Medical Doctor in Nigeria and completed an MBA at Rutgers University Business School in New Jersey. I have been working in the Drug Research and Development field for the past 15 years. Prior to joining Adaptimmune, I worked at different levels across various companies managing global development programs that have led to new drug approvals in the US and the European Union.

Can you tell us about our trials that are recruiting people with esophageal cancer?

I am the medical lead for our planned Phase 2 SURPASS-2 clinical trial that will enroll people with esophageal and gastroesophageal junction cancers. We are lining up sites in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Spain and the US, and plan to start this trial later this year.

We have decided to start SURPASS-2 based on responses we have seen in esophagogastric junction cancers in the Phase 1 SURPASS trial. The SURPASS trial is still recruiting patients with various cancer indications including lung, head and neck, bladder, gastric, esophagogastric and esophageal cancers.

To design our trials with the patients at the heart of all that we do, I have recently connected with ECAN and have met with a few people who have had esophageal cancer, their caregiver, and patient advocates. It has been humbling and provided incredibly useful insights, which we will use as we conduct the trial. These meetings have been a reminder of the importance of what we do, how we do what we do, and the need to design and deliver cell therapies for people with cancer.

What do you enjoy the most of working at Adaptimmune?

What I enjoy most about working at Adaptimmune is the opportunity to be part of a team that works tirelessly to bring new treatment options to people with cancer that have ran out of options and are looking for a new therapy that might help them live longer and live better. Also, talking to the clinical trial investigators and key opinion leaders who shared with us “it is about time” and “we want to be part of this process” is very encouraging. Feedback of this nature is one of the many things that keeps us in the SURPASS family motivated and keep pushing forward.

Although we span time zones and continents, we are a very closed knit family across the SURPASS and SURPASS-2 trials. We are a cohesive group of highly motivated individuals eager to get our therapies to people who need them.

You can learn more about this disease by vising the Esophageal Cancer Action Network (ECAN) website.

1ACS, 2020
25EU = FR+ IT+ES+DE+UK i.e. individual countries summed; GLOBOCAN 2020; IARC’s Global Cancer Observatory
3The Lancet. The global, regional and national burden of oesophageal cancer and its attributable risk factors in 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017.
4Key statistics for Esophageal Cancer. American Cancer Society.