Cancer is one of the top deadliest diseases over the globe. It’s likely to be around as long as human existence, killing a wide number of people. However, with the advances in the field of therapeutics, scientists have eradicated many diseases over the course of time. Same is the case with cancer that its diagnosis and treatment has been improved that people’s life expectancy is greatly improved. Cancer therapeutics is one of the top hot topics in research areas. Exciting advances are on their way and paving path to better treatment of cancer. Here is what we may expect in terms of cancer therapeutics.
⦁ Genetic Level Treatment
Genetic engineering is widely growing field aiming at finding better cure options for diseases. Genetically engineered recombinant antibodies aim at the targeted killing of cancerous cells based on the specific antigens located on the surface of cancerous cells.
For instance, one recombinant humanized antibody is AVASTIN. This engineered antibody binds to vascular endothelial growth factor and inhibits its activity and receptors interaction. Thus, it limits the cancerous cell’s proliferation. Although, it’s trial on mice seems promising yet it will take some time to be used for humans. This antibody is expected to be useful for treating colorectal cancer and breast cancer.
⦁ Monoclonal Antibodies For Targeted Therapy
Monoclonal antibodies are the product of genetic engineering and are targeted antibodies against a particular antigen on cancer cells. Certain monoclonal antibodies which are under trail can be the future of skin cancer. Some of these are approved by US food and drug administration, Mabthera, Yervoy and Nivolumab (Opdivo) for treatment of skin cancer.
⦁ Genetics Based Treatment
Gene-based treatment of cancer is based on targeting and treating particular gene whose mutation is the reason or is linked to cancer development. For instance, BRAF gene mutation causes melanoma. Drugs such as Vemurafenib, Dabrafenib, and And Encorafenibe are based on BRAF gene mutation that these inhibit the overproduction of BRAF gene product. Similarly, the overproduction of the gene product of the HER2 gene is associated with breast cancer development. Trastuzumab (Herceptin) drug inhibits the overactivity of the mutated gene.
Human’s immune system is not only the natural defense against all the invading infectious organisms but also eradicate the abnormal cancerous cells in the body. being immune-compromised or having some other disease sometimes make it difficult for the immune system to locate and kill cancerous cells. Immunotherapy helps the immune system to attack and kill cancerous cells in several ways such as:
⦁ Better identification of cancerous cells
⦁ Boosting immune system responses in order to kill cancerous cells
Checkpoint inhibitors on the surface of normal cells prevent their killing by fighter T cells of the immune system. Cancerous cells use a similar checkpoint inhibitor to hide. Immune- therapy involves drugs that block these checkpoints on cancerous cells, making them more easily detected and killed by T cells.
⦁ Cancer Vaccines
Vaccines have been a vital therapeutic tool for a long time. These vaccines have eradicated many contagious diseases including smallpox, measles, and polio as well. The idea is simple that entering a dead or weak pathogen in person’s body prepares and strengthens their immune system for a future invasion of a pathogen.
The similar concept will apply for cancer treatment. In order to create cancer vaccines, the doctors will take cancerous cells from the patient, modify or weaken them and these weak cells will serve as cancer vaccines preventing cancerous cells develop in the body.
Vaccines against cancer are under clinical trials. One of these is Sipuleucel- T (Provenge) against prostate cancer. Vaccines against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B are available and are in use. These are useful for cancer prevention as both this disease may lead to liver cancer development.
⦁ Adoptive Cell Transfer
Another therapeutic strategy on the way is adoptive cell transfer. This method involves the immune system’s own cells. The cells isolated from the tumor are modified in the lab and then returned to the patient body, they bind and kill their similar cancerous cells. CAT-T cell therapy is one example which is applied to leukemia and blood cancers.
⦁ Immune System Modulator
Manipulating and modulating the immune system is of primary focus in cancer therapeutic. For instance, controlling the levels of cytokines will limit the proliferation of the cancerous cell. Similarly, interleukins and interferon’s are focus points in immune system modulating. Controlling their levels controls growth and cellular proliferation.
Will There Be A Cure?
Curing cancer is no doubt a great challenge because of its complexity at molecular and genetic levels. Scientists and researchers have made great strides to develop a clear understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of cancer. The above-listed strategies are under clinical and lab trails yet they promise a better cure for all types of cancer in the near future. So let’s hope for the best!!