In today’s NY Times (Sunday, July 8 – front page, front section, above the fold) there is a must-read article for anyone who has cancer, who is a cancer survivor, who loves someone with cancer, and who might be high risk themselves (“In Leukemia Treatment, Glimpses of the future” by Gina Kolata) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/health/in-gene-sequencing-treatment-for-leukemia-glimpses-of-the-future.html?pagewanted=all
What makes the news reported in this article so extraordinary is that medical science now possesses the means to determine the differences in genetic constitution of cancers compared to normal cells in the same individual, and that cancer-driving mutated genes, or the proteins they program for, may be targeted by existing drugs, or drugs that can be developed. The problem is still far from simple, but the individualized genetic approach to cancer is the most promising in humankind’s history of grappling with this large array of disorders.
“What is important, medical researchers say, is the genes that drive a cancer, not the tissue or organ – liver or brain, bone marrow, blood or colon – where the cancer originates… under this new approach, researchers expect that treatment will be tailored to an individual tumor’s mutations, with drugs, eventually, that hit several key aberrant genes at once. The cocktails of medicines would be analogous to H.I.V. treatment, which uses several different drugs at once to strike the virus in a number of critical areas.”
Kol hakavod to the medical researchers! Keep it up – we’re all behind you!