The results of six studies examining novel cancer-fighting approaches
designed to target cancer cells while potentially leaving healthy
cells intact were discussed at a press conference held at the 34th
Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. These
next-generation treatments include early human trials of monoclonal
antibodies, antiangiogenesis agents, cancer vaccines, antisense
therapy, and gene therapy.
"Our investment in cancer research is clearly paying off with a
host of exciting new approaches to treating the disease," said
Lynn M. Schuchter, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania Cancer
Center, and moderator of the press conference. "Efforts over the
last 15 years to understand the biology of cancer--the cellular,
molecular and genetic basis for the disease--are now making their way
from the laboratory to the bedside."
These novel therapies, which could soon be used with standard
chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, may eventually emerge as
primary treatments for cancer.
Primary New Biotherapeutic Approaches
Monoclonal antibodies are being developed to supplement the
bodys immune system by recognizing and attacking specific
proteins expressed by cancer cells. This therapy shows efficacy both
as a single agent, and, more promisingly, when attached to a toxin or
radioactive agent that serves as the weapon that actually kills the
Antiangiogenesis agents: Some of the first human trials of
antiangiogenesis agents are demonstrating the potential to inhibit
new blood vessel formation and, thus, starve tumors of the blood
supply that they need to grow and spread.
Cancer vaccines are therapeutic, stimulating the
bodys own immune system to recognize and attack already
existing cancer cells.
Antisense therapy: By introducing strands of RNA (antisense)
engineered to match and bind to the replicating DNA (sense) of cancer
cells, antisense therapy attempts to block cancer cells from reproducing.
Gene therapy attempts to repair damaged DNA, add new DNA in an
attempt to mend faulty genes, or introduce genes that make cancer
cells sensitive to drug therapy.