Turning the Corner: Advances in Cancer Research
After nearly 200 years of clinical research, scientists are finally beginning to gain the upper hand when it comes to understanding cancer and developing new ways to beat the dreaded disease. While there are many different cancers, some of which are more difficult to treat than others, many advancements have been made in helping patients live longer, healthier lives while battling cancer. However, some stand out from others when evaluating their impact on treatment and the promise they hold for the future.
Considered one of the most cutting-edge therapies, epigenetic therapy is designed to find ways to transform malignant cells back into normal cells that will not lead to the formation of tumors inside the body. Focused on genetic programming of cells, this therapy has led to the formation of many new cancer drugs made to force cancer cells to become normal cells with regard to their growth and function.
Responsible for 90 percent of all cancer deaths, metastasis has been one of the most difficult aspects of cancer to understand and treat effectively. However, in recent years cancer researchers have been able to identify specific genes that allow certain types of cancers to spread throughout the human body and its organs. In addition to this, new details have been learned as to how metastatic cancer cells not only spread, but also multiply at alarming rates. Considered a major breakthrough due to the fact that these cells are uncommon in the body and very difficult to detect, researchers now believe unlocking the mysteries of metastasis is growing closer every day.
Cell-Based Therapy and Living Drugs
A variation of immunotherapy, cell-based therapy uses the T cells of the patient to fight the cancer. Known as CAR therapy, it takes T cells from a patient’s blood and then genetically re-programs them to seek out and fight tumors. Once this is done, the T cells are put back into the patient’s bloodstream to let them go to work. By using these so-called “living drugs,” many advancements have been made in treating blood cancers and large, solid tumors.
As researchers continue to learn more and more about this deadly disease, it’s believed the day will come when cancer will be treated in similar fashion to today’s infectious diseases. But rather than using antibiotics, doctors will instead use personalized, genetically-engineered treatment options to make cancer deaths a thing of the past.