In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people died as a result of the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute. These numbers are staggering.
The challenge for clinicians and researchers is enormous, especially because cancer behaves differently in different patients. As such, treatments are becoming increasingly tailored to patients and their disease progressions. Whereas traditional cancer therapies work to counter all fast-growing cells, targeted treatments counter a cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival to exactly target a person’s tumor.
So, as each newly diagnosed patient and their doctors work to determine a treatment plan, they will use increasingly targeted treatment therapies.
There is hope for a cure, and the number of survivors is on the rise.
In 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. The number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026. Gradually, targeted therapies, including immunotherapy, are increasing those rates.
Although targeted therapies are becoming more effective and popular, they are highly complex and not always effective. Targeted therapies require a target, such as a specific type of cell that a drug can work to diminish. However, even if a patient has the appropriate target cells, individuals may not respond to the drug. And, it’s possible that if there is a response to treatment, it may only be temporary.
New technologies are working to predict and improve the efficacy of treatments. Here are two companies at the forefront.
A biotech company, Immunophotonics, has developed a proprietary carbohydrate polymer called “IP-001” that can be used to bolster an immune system’s anti-tumor response. IP-001 injections typically happen after tumor ablation, or the destruction of tumors using physical methods (heat, cold, radiation, etc) or chemical agents directly applied to the tumor. Although tumor ablation may as a matter of course lead to production of danger signals that could support an immune response, it is usually insufficient for the complete eradication of established tumors, micrometastases or distant metastases. Collectively, with ablation + IP-001, a systemic antitumor response may be initiated.
This technology also supports other immunotherapies: The IP-001 injection can induce a prominent tumor-specific T Cell response, which can prime the patient to be more responsive to future immunotherapies, potentially improving their effectiveness.
Another company working to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapies is Cofactor Genomics, which has pioneered Predictive Immune Modeling technology. Cofactor Genomics uses RNA to diagnose disease.
After decoding a patient’s RNA, it compares it to a database of Health Expression Models representing key immune cell types. It then generates an ImmunoPrism Report that helps to predict how a specific immune system will respond to drugs and therapy. It can then generate multidimensional biomarkers that help clinicians, researchers and pharma teams predict patient responses to drugs and therapy.
Although cancer treatments are becoming increasingly effective, cancer still devastates families every day. By improving targeted treatments for patients, the world moves closer to a cure.
But, as treatments become increasingly tailored, it’s clear that cure won’t be just one cure. Instead, thanks to new advances, the cure will show up as clearer and more effective treatment plans in more and more doctors’ offices day after day, one patient at a time.