Book Review: Cancer Therapy in the Twenty-First Century. I. Molecular and Immunologic Approaches

April 1, 1995

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

The first volume of Cancer Therapy in the Twenty-First Centuryprovides background information on some of the molecular and immunologicapproaches that are becoming increasingly important in the diagnosisand management of cancer patients. The 307-page text is dividedinto four sections with 40 contributors, and contains 45 illustrationsand 36 tables.

Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes are introduced in the firstsection. Clear definitions and examples provide a very nice reviewof this evolving field. Well-organized tables show different classificationschemes for these genes, as well as their association with variousmalignancies. The likely physiologic role of these gene productsis discussed so as to point out the complexity and the multiplemolecular targets/events within a cell that can lead to the transformedphenotype. The current status of oncogenes and tumor suppressorgenes in cancer diagnosis and prognosis is summarized. Variousinteresting approaches to treatment based on this knowledge arediscussed, including an extensive segment on the rational developmentof selective inhibitors of tyrosine kinases.

Section 2 describes advances in cancer prediction, diagnosis,and prognosis. The first chapter focuses on the usefulness ofthe prostate-specific antigen in the current management of prostatecancer, but it also reviews the large variety of tumor markersthat are available in oncologic practice. One chapter is devotedexclusively to the polymerase chain reaction in molecular oncology.Background is provided on the technique itself, as well as oncurrent and potential future uses.

Antisense strategies are discussed in the next section, whichexplores both the promise and the complexities of antisense oligonucleotidetherapy. Key issues, including chemical structure and stability,ribozymes, triplex DNA, uptake, specificity, and problems withdelivery, are well outlined.

The final section is titled "Immunotherapy"; however,only antibody-based approaches are included. Chapters are devotedto radioimmunotherapy, bi-specific antibodies, antibody-toxinconjugates, 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 theseantibody-based therapy topics provides basic background informationalong with the problems and future promise of the modalities.

Overall, this first volume of Cancer Therapy in the Twenty-FirstCentury provides good basic information on molecular and immunologicapproaches. It will be useful for both academic and practicingoncologists who are trying to stay abreast of, or are just curiousabout, the many discoveries in basic science that are moving intothe clinic. Although no book can be up-to-the-minute in theserapidly changing fields, this text gives the reader an appreciationof the marked influence new techniques and novel approaches arelikely to have on the future practice of clinical oncology.