For years now in the field of Oncology chemotherapy has mainly been used in the treatment of the dreadful disease called “Cancer”. Unfortunately though chemotherapy over the years has not proven to be the ideal treatment for Cancer simply due to the fact that apart from killing the cancer cells it also kills normal cells resulting in side effects in a patient such as nausea to infection or even death at times. It is for this reason that for years now that researchers have been trying to find an alternative and a more patient friendly treatment for this disease.
It is in the quest for a better alternative treatment for this dreaded disease that researches have been undertaken on a large scale all through the world for a decade now. It is finally now that there have been studies that reveal possibilities of cancer being treated through the use of pills and that too with lesser side effects which only implies that there is a possibility that we could see the end of chemotherapy for all kinds of cancer in the near future. Although the first signs of development of pill in cancer treatment first came into evidence in the year 2001 when a first precision anticancer drug called imatinib(Gleevec) and was approved to treat chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). This drug acts by targeting certain pathways that tumor cell require for their growth. For example this drug prevents the cancer cells from sending signals to other good cells for nutrients or they may also act by inhibiting angiogenesis i.e. the ability of the cancer cells to develop blood vessels so as to feed for their growth. What the development of this anticancer drug has made sure is that at least patients with chronic myeloid leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumor or GIST can now easily avoid chemotherapy which is indeed an evidence of a huge breakthrough in the field of oncology. What this development has also done is that it has ensured that anticancer cancer therapies via pills can be used for patient with lung cancer and melanoma and there have been evidences to suggest that many patients have already begun to make use of these pills. What is also of possibility in the near future according to many experts is the use of multiple drug therapy in the treatment of cancer. This is simply due to the fact that cancer cells like bacteria or virus can mutate to resist the targeted cells thereby making them ineffective.
Apart from the use of pills in the treatment of cancer the introduction of “The Human Genome Project” in the field of oncology has certainly given a lot of hope for a more clinical treatment of this disease in the near future. This project which basically acts as an instruction manual in a DNA form has now been developed by researchers with regards to cancer as well. At the US National Cancer Institute scientists have published most complete genome set consisting of 20,000 genes of 60 tumor cell lines which includes breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer. These set of genes provides for detailed information about series of mutations in the coding sections of DNA that produces enzymes, signaling molecules, or other agents that can turn cells malignant.
So with cancer having become a real menace for mankind the research for smarter cancer drugs to replace chemotherapy has definitely become the need of the hour. Although the question as to whether or not smarter cancer drugs are a reality in the near future is yet to be answered. As Dr. Martin Tallman, chief of the leukemia service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center quite rightly says “Many, many fundamental concepts of cancer are being challenged now” and thus providing mankind with at least some hope that the end of the dreaded chemotherapy is looking more like reality and not some kind of a fairytale.