HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO CURE CANCER?
Cancer has a long history may be as long as human existence. It’s one of the leading causes of mortality across the globe. According to data reported by world health organization, nearly 1 in every 6 death is caused by cancer at global scale. The national cancer institute estimated about 1,688,780 new cancer cases in year 2017 and this was only in United States.
Despite the remarkable advancements in the field of science, genetics, genetic engineering and therapeutics, a proper and targeted treatment for cancer is yet to be developed. The reason? The complexity of molecular basis of this disease is the main hurdle in developing a specific and targeted treatment for it. Moreover, the complexity is added on with different types of cancer.
Currently, there are some treatment strategies used for cancer treatment although not properly cure it. These are:
- Surgical removal of Tumors
- Hormonal therapy (for breast and prostate cancer)
No doubt, these methods do have tumor killing and tumor suppressing effects. However, none of these is free of side effects. Thus, the medical researchers are constantly looking for treatment options which are more specific, targeted and with least possible side effects.
So, here in this article, we will have n insight of major research area in cancer therapeutic.
The immune system of human body is in fact a gift of God. The T cells of immune system not only detect foreign invading pathogen but also the cancerous cells and kill them. However, it is equally possible that immune system may miss these tumor cells. Such case happens in immune-compromised persons.
Therefore, one of the under trail therapeutic strategy is to boost up the immune system to effectively remove the cancerous cells. This is named as ‘immunotherapy’ and is currently one of the most trending topics in medical research.
Epigenetics is another trending topic in research areas. Epigenetic is described as the changes in genome or genes other than their sequence. Epigenetics changes effect the ‘gene expression’. These changes are considered to be crucial as these may contribute to development and progression of cancer. An extensive and detailed study is required to understand the molecular basis. On the other hand, the plant biotechnologists are trying to manipulate these epigenetic changes in medicinal plants to improve their anticancer characteristics.
In this context, plant based targeted antibodies-plantibodies are under trial. These antibodies are expected to be more specific and targeted for cancer cure.
- Therapeutic Vaccine And Viruses
Until now, the viruses were known for their disease causing ability or their pathogenicity. However, due to advances in genetic engineering and recombinant DNA technology, the viruses are claimed to be a weapon against cancerous cells. Adding the tumor specific genes in these viruses will enable them to locate and kill the cancerous cells only. Retrovirus and adenoviruses are classes of viruses which are considered useful for this purpose.
Another type of immunotherapy is ‘dendritic vaccines’. Dendritic cells of neurons play a significant role in immune responses against pathogens and cancerous cells. This therapeutic strategy aims to isolate the dendritic cells from the body and to ‘arm’ them with tumor specific antigens. When enter the body, these cells will act as vaccines.
Another area for improvement in immunotherapy is “dendritic vaccines,” a strategy wherein dendritic cells (which play a key role in the body’s immune response) are collected from a person’s body, “armed” with tumor-specific antigens — which will teach them to “hunt” and destroy relevant cancer cells — and injected back into the body to boost the immune system. Some of the researchers are also trying to improve the action of dendritic vaccines by creating artificial receptors. Attaching these receptors means that the immune response of dendritic vaccines will amplify.
One of the downside of this kind of therapeutics is that these may possibly attack the normal cells as well. To overcome this issue, researchers at research institute of North Carolina have successfully developed a substance which transforms into a gel like structure when injected in body. This is a ‘bioresponsive scaffold system.’ This scaffold will hold the therapeutic drugs at targeted sites so as to prevent the normal cells of body.
- Nanotechnology- The Future Of Cancer Therapeutic
Nanoparticles are microscopic particles and can be a game changer for cancer therapeutic and many more fatal diseases. In the last decade and so, the Nanoparticles approach has a ‘boom’ in many fields along with therapeutics.
Nanoparticles can prove as a vital, noninvasive and targeted drug delivery system.
Researchers in UK and China have developed ‘self-regulating’ Nanoparticles. Moreover, these tiny particles can be effective delivery system of stem cell transfer to patient body.
Stem cell technology is another area of research targeting the congenital genetic disorders.
Nanoparticles technique is no doubt going to be an effective drug delivery tool for cancer treatment in near future.
- Tumor Starvation Strategy
As we know that rapidly dividing tumor cells need certain nutrients and conditions for division and proliferation. Thus, one possibility is that starving or depriving the tumor cells of essential growth nutrients can be effective tumor-control strategy.
Recently researchers at University of Salford in UK have observed the same starvation strategy. This is possible by blocking the access of vitamin B12 and amino acid glutamine supply to cancerous cells. Fortunately, the results are promising.
What’s All That Mean?
Every single development in therapeutics and medicines needs to be experimented. The clinical trials on people may have some serious side effects. This is one main hurled in success and application of these therapeutic strategies. Therefore, all these new strategies are under trail before they become a common therapeutic tool for cancer treatment. If the advances in research areas continued with pace as they are now, a most effective treatment or cure of cancer will be achieved soon.
Sehrish is a biotechnology graduate, a blogger and a passionate writer. Although a graduate in biotechnology, her passion to write brought her to blogging world. She loves to share her ideas, opinions and write about what’s happening in science world. If you like her work and want to read more, you can subscribe to her personal blog https://www.scienceofhealthy.com/.