A groundbreaking study on genetics may have finally found a cure to the cancer diseases that kill millions of patients each year. Drugs that have the ability to target a specific type of cancer present in the body are currently being developed.
Speaking to The Indepdent U.K. during World Cancer Day on Feb. 4, former head of the World Health Organization cancer program Professor Karol Sikora revealed that recent breakthroughs in the medical field will someday allow physicians to prescribe drugs that will specifically target the type of cancer present in people.
"What it would do is suppress the cancer and convert cancer into a long-term chronic disease," Professor Sikora said. "Most patients with cancer tend to be in their 50s or 60s. If they live another 20 or 30 years, they would effectively live a normal lifespan," she continued.
"There will be, not a cure-all, but a much better predictive way of knowing which drugs to give to which patients," Sikora added.
Personalized and precision medicine is what doctors target in the near future. Professor Sikora explained that tumors are unique to the individuals affected. Studies are now focusing on differentiating normal cells from cancer cells and developing the drugs that will specifically target the cancer cells and hopefully prolong the lives of patients.
While most available cancer-treating drugs available now are considered poison and may potentially harm healthy cells in the process of killing or slowing down the growth of cancer cells, a new treatment called molecular targeted therapy has been developed, according to ABC News. The drugs used in this particular treatment will function at a molecular level, targeting cancer cells of a specific type of cancer only.
"This is as important as it gets. A cancer-specific target, a drug specifically designed for the target, the most effective agent ever," Paul A. Bunn Jr., president-elect of the American Society of Clinical Oncology told ABC News. "Read my lips, this is real, not mice," he said.
"If we understand the critical abnormalities that drive a cancer, we can target the cancer with an effective and non-toxic therapy," Dr. Brian Druker, director of the Leukemia Program at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, said in the same report.
"We need to identify the critical abnormalities in each and every cancer so drugs like STI571 can be developed for each cancer," he added. Dr. Druker is the lead researcher in the drug being developed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.