An Alternative Cure For Cancer

The development of biotechnology applied to cancer research has allowed, through the identification of molecules that interact with a specific molecular target, to look at the treatment of cancer with a hint of optimism. In the near future cancer care will become increasingly specific and selective and, therefore, less invasive, and it to hit only the tumor cells.

The production of antibodies is one of the most advanced forms available to man to fight foreign invaders (viruses, bacteria) and internal (cancer). Unfortunately, cancer cells, by implementing a series of strategies escape from the antibody recognition and thus lower their potential defensiveness. Mutations of the protein present on certain tumor cells behave as switches always on, always with the result of stimulating malignant cell proliferation.
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Hence the idea (since 1975) to produce the “monoclonal antibodies”, or laboratory-made antibodies able to bind selectively the antigen (protein) present only on tumor cells. They are therefore highly specific drugs. Currently more than one thousand drugs are being tested, but only a few dozen are in use for some types of cancer.

Research offers today a wide range of specific agents for molecular targets: molecular antibodies directed to block cell proliferation through the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors, farnesyl inhibitors of the RAS oncoprotein, angiogenesis inhibitors (which inhibit the blood supply to the tumor through the interruption of the production of new blood vessels), etc…

For some types of cancer some of these drugs have proved very effective.

For example, in chronic myeloid leukemia drug tyrosine kinase inhibitor Gleevec produces a positive clinical response in almost all cases.

The limitation of these drugs is not always the fact that the antigen is expressed by tumor cells. More precisely, as argued by the same a Director of the Institute of Oncology, University Hospital of Padua Company, “not all cancer cells express the target against which the drugs are directed. It can also happen that the monoclonal antibody does not directly act on the active cell, but is blocked by the antigen in the blood circulating tumor and therefore is irrelevant because it can not reach the biological target to which it is built. ” Moreover, in many cases, though precise and efficient, the monoclonal antibody drug is not sufficient to completely inhibit the development of the disease. Often, the tumor growth is not tied to a single factor. Therefore, the block of a single item through a specific antibody, such as anti – vessel growth factor VEGF, may not be enough.

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