The first volume of Cancer Therapy in the Twenty-First Century
provides background information on some of the molecular and immunologic
approaches that are becoming increasingly important in the diagnosis
and management of cancer patients. The 307-page text is divided
into four sections with 40 contributors, and contains 45 illustrations
and 36 tables.
Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are introduced in the first
section. Clear definitions and examples provide a very nice review
of this evolving field. Well-organized tables show different classification
schemes for these genes, as well as their association with various
malignancies. The likely physiologic role of these gene products
is discussed so as to point out the complexity and the multiple
molecular targets/events within a cell that can lead to the transformed
phenotype. The current status of oncogenes and tumor suppressor
genes in cancer diagnosis and prognosis is summarized. Various
interesting approaches to treatment based on this knowledge are
discussed, including an extensive segment on the rational development
of selective inhibitors of tyrosine kinases.
Section 2 describes advances in cancer prediction, diagnosis,
and prognosis. The first chapter focuses on the usefulness of
the prostate-specific antigen in the current management of prostate
cancer, but it also reviews the large variety of tumor markers
that are available in oncologic practice. One chapter is devoted
exclusively to the polymerase chain reaction in molecular oncology.
Background is provided on the technique itself, as well as on
current and potential future uses.
Antisense strategies are discussed in the next section, which
explores both the promise and the complexities of antisense oligonucleotide
therapy. Key issues, including chemical structure and stability,
ribozymes, triplex DNA, uptake, specificity, and problems with
delivery, are well outlined.
The final section is titled "Immunotherapy"; however,
only antibody-based approaches are included. Chapters are devoted
to radioimmunotherapy, bi-specific antibodies, antibody-toxin
conjugates, and the use of cytokines in monoclonal antibody therapy.
The first and last chapters in this section are more laboratory-oriented,
with illustrative experimental data. Nevertheless, each of these
antibody-based therapy topics provides basic background information
along with the problems and future promise of the modalities.
Overall, this first volume of Cancer Therapy in the Twenty-First
Century provides good basic information on molecular and immunologic
approaches. It will be useful for both academic and practicing
oncologists who are trying to stay abreast of, or are just curious
about, the many discoveries in basic science that are moving into
the clinic. Although no book can be up-to-the-minute in these
rapidly changing fields, this text gives the reader an appreciation
of the marked influence new techniques and novel approaches are
likely to have on the future practice of clinical oncology.