Cancer continues to be the leading cause of death on the planet. For years researchers have been looking for a cure and billions of dollars are spent each year for this purpose. So, with all this time and energy being expended, are we any closer to a cure?
For todays cancer patients the most common treatments are chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and hormonal therapy for certain types of cancer. These treatments have varying degrees of success but often come with undesirable side effects.
To address these problems there are new treatments that are being used more frequently. These therapies are meant to help defeat cancer more efficiently and, ideally, have fewer side effects.
But these treatments aren’t meant to be the ultimate defeat of cancer, for that the search takes on various forms and involves different branches of medical science.
One branch of cancer research that is being studied has to do with therapeutic viruses. In new experiments, researchers in the UK have managed to use a reovirus to attack brain cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. This is significant because it is the first time it has been shown that a therapeutic virus is able to pass through the brain-blood barrier meaning that immunotherapy could be used to treat more people with aggressive brain cancers.
There is an ongoing revolution in nanotechnology and it includes advances in the medical field. Nanoparticles garnered a lot of attention in the medical field because they bring us the chance to develop precise, less invasive methods of tackling disease. Researchers hope to enable nanoparticles to target cancer cells or cancer tumors without harming healthy cells in the surrounding environment. Nanoparticles can also be “loaded” with drugs and set to “hunt down” cancer stem cells to prevent the growth or recurrence of tumors.
Using still a different approach, three different studies — whose results were all published in January this year — looked at ways of cutting off cancers’ nutritional supplies. Certain cancers, such as breast, lung, and colon, are known to use this amino acid to support their growth. Some of these strategies are showing promise.
Though there is much hope, most of these projects are still in their early stages and it will be some time before we see more conclusive results. Still, researchers remain optimistic.