Description: Cancer research has come a long way with the help of technology. Different methods are being studied and despite being at clinical trial levels, they are welcome progress in the quest to find a cure.
Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases in human history. In 2018, the Cancer National Institute estimated more than 1,700,000 new cases of cancer in the United States, with more than 600,000 deaths.
A huge amount of time and money has been invested in studying and trying to find ways to combat cancer. So far, the most common cancer treatments are surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, these methods are frequently high risk, with side effects that might make things very difficult for patients. In addition, there is a relatively high chance of cancer recurring with these treatments.
Technological advancements in medicine are paving the way to more research and studies being conducted to find alternative treatments that are more effective than the current methods. Most of these treatments, however, are rudimentary and are at clinical trial levels.
Cancer begins when a gene mutates, forcing the cell to become abnormal and grow out of control at an alarming speed. Gene mapping, or mapping the sequence of the DNA in the genes, allows doctors to see which cells are normal and which aren’t.
Targeted therapy blocks the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to survive. Researchers are also learning that specific gene changes take place in certain cancers. This discovery will allow them to develop drugs that can target and prohibit these changes by blocking off signals that instruct cancer cells to grow.
Targeted therapy is currently being applied to treat various kinds of cancers, including breast, colorectal, head and neck, and liver, among others.
There are not a lot of studies on how nanoparticles can help treat cancer. Most of the studies are looking at how these nanoparticles can serve as the detecting material inside the body, looking for signs of abnormality in the cells. Some also suggest that they can be used to deliver cancer-fighting drugs directly to affected cells.
Other research being conducted is trying to find out if nanoparticles can be used for more than just drug delivery and cancer detection. Since nanoparticles are generally smaller than blood vessels, the research is trying to determine if they can readily interact with biomolecules in the body — both on the surface and inside of the cell — and kill the cancer cells directly.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cell therapy is another type of cancer treatment being developed. Stem cell therapy has been used for more than 30 years in treating various kinds of cancers, but we have only scratched the surface of the technology so far.
During chemotherapy, some of the patient’s cells die and will need to be replaced. Stem cells, which are extracted from your bone marrow or from another healthy donor, returned to the bloodstream after chemotherapy. They find their way to the bone marrow and help in the production of healthy blood cells.
Still a long way to go
Cancer research has come a long way, but we are only seeing a glimpse of the end of the tunnel. However, every step is welcome progress. Humans have a good record of treating diseases. Many deadly diseases of the past have been conquered. It is not overly optimistic that our rapid advancing technology and understanding of the disease will soon lead to a cure.