cancer cells (Photo : Reuters)
In the search for the next cancer cure breakthrough, the future of battling the deadly disease will likely be in personalized medicine. Cancer treatments could be custom made for patients with a specific disease type, focusing on their genetic makeup to stop the disease from spreading and protect the healthy cells.
For several decades physicians had the same game plan for patients with a particular type of cancer, such as lung, breast, liver, colon, or skin cancer. However, not all cancer drugs work for all patients. As medical research progressed during the past three decades, the industry created standards for cancer treatments and various ailments such as heart disease and diabetes. The focus also shifted to unique individuals.
During the past 20 years, cancer cells have built walls to protect themselves from the human immune system identifying and destroying them. Current solutions are basically radiation and chemotherapy.
The problem with this common approach to cancer treatments and studies is that it has not focused on stopping the disease’s spreading and distinguishing healthy cells from cancerous cells. However, the general approach is changing. For example, one cancer breakthrough that is gaining popularity is something called “immunotherapy,” according to Huffington Post. This type of therapy focuses on attacking cancer cells and leaving alone the healthy ones.
The treatment involves injecting specific types of bacteria into cancer cells, and then returning them to the patient’s body. His or her immune system figures out how to recognize the cancerous cells, and then kills them. Using personalized medicine in developing new cancer treatments will speed up the search for a cure. It will also help in cancer prevention.
About 1.66 million new cancer cases are projected to be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. The disease causes about one-fourth of deaths in the U.S., with only heart disease resulting in more fatalities.