Targeted Therapies for Cancer


Personalised medicine has become the goal for modern cancer therapy. The chemotoxicity of many cancer drugs is down to their systemic effects and finding more targeted therapies will help in theory reduce toxicity and improve patient tolerance of medicines.

Chemotherapeutic drugs that are targeted do not kill all cells but are specifically designed for tumor cells and can be personalized to specific cancers and to each patient’s individual genetic makeup.

Many of these drugs function by stopping cancers from growing and dividing, spreading or by using or immune response to attack the cancer, or may even trigger the cancer cell to die itself by harnessing natural mechanisms that we use ourselves to recycle cells.

One specific type of new drugs are called monoclonal antibodies. When our body responds to infection it will create a range of these special molecules that are targeted at the specific infection. By cloning one of them it is possible to create a special colony of cancer attackers. They can be used to carry drug specifically to cancers by attaching onto cancer cells or may trigger the immune response to attack.

Vaccines have also been used to protect against cancer – a kind of immune memory is triggered – and they can also stimulate our immune system to tackle the cancer if it develops. They can prevent cancer by protecting us against specific infections implicated as cancer triggers, such as the human papilloma virus linked with cervical cancer.

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