Medical advances are offering hope for cancer patients in the form of specific drugs that can target the cellular makeup of a patient’s individual tumor. Early-stage research indicates that this is much more advantageous to recovery than a “scattershot approach.”
Two examples of target drugs that deal with specific gene mutations in tumors are: Roche’s Herceptin for a certain type of breast cancer or Gleevec, sold by Novartis. Some success has been seen with these two drugs but it must be said that this approach will not work for every type of cancer.
The research is still in an experimental stage but nevertheless, it represents a light at the end of a terrifying tunnel. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center conducted a phase one study and discovered that higher rates of tumor shrinkage and patient survival occurred when genetic markers were paired with matching therapies.
The study concentrated on 852 patients who were diagnosed with either inoperable cancer or a cancer that had spread beyond the primary location. It concluded that more than one-quarter (27%) of the 175 patients whose illnesses were characterized by a single gene aberration and who were subsequently treated with a matched drug, experienced tumor shrinkage.
The results of this hopeful study were presented in Chicago last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Newer targeted drugs attack the pathways that cancer cells need to grow and reproduce aided by medical research techniques, which have enabled scientists to decode human genetic information.
The study is so full of promise for certain types of cancer that it is worthy of many toasts and celebrations.
Cancer, your days may be full but they are numbered.