Many volunteers world-wide devote themselves to raising funds for cancer research and cancer charities. Many hundreds of thousands more work in the industry as carers, or researching, prescribing, diagnosing and manufacturing drugs. Huge companies spend fortunes on cancer research. After so long and so many billions spent what exactly has cancer research revealed?
There have been regular breakthroughs in our knowledge of cancer, but little progress in its treatment. Modern research into cancer started in the 1940’s and 50’s when scientists isolated substances which destroys cancer cells growing in a petri dish, or leukaemia cells in lab mice. Early victories in chemotherapy set the speed and received much media exposure, despite the fact that they only applied to 5% of cancer therapies at most. Serving humanity by solving its important diseases has a celebrity status, there’s a good deal of kudos and an air of Hollywood involved in these matters.
Cancer research is high profile action and every now and then a scientific treatment is found that gains wide recognition, like the HPV-16 trial, but it only applies itself to the treatment of a small proportion of cancers. Mass-media hype is part of the issue of how we view cancer. Early discoveries put up an expectation that there was a cure-all therapy, a’magic bullet’ that would make its discoverer famous by treating cancer throughout the world.
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The idea stems in part from aspirin, the first bullet that magically finds its way into the pain and reduces it. In the 1950’s and 60’s huge and costly research projects were set up to test every known chemical to find out if it effected cells. You may remember the discovery of the Madagascar Periwinkle (Catharansus Roseus), which demonstrated alkaloids (vinblastine and vincristine) which are still used in chemotherapy now. Taxol, a treatment for breast and ovarian cancer initially came from the Pacific Yew tree.
A treatment for esophageal cancer and small-cell lung cancer known as’Etoposide’ was derived from the May apple. In’Plants Used Against Cancer’ by Jonathan Hartwell over 3,000 plants have been diagnosed with clinical and folklore sources for treating cancer, about half of which have been proven to have some effect on cancer cells in a test tube. When these plants are made into artificial drugs, single chemicals are dispersed and the rest of the plant is usually thrown away.
The medicinally active molecules are extracted from the plant and modified until they are unique. Then the chemical is patented, given a fresh name and analyzed. In the first phase it will typically be tested on animals, the next stage will decide dose amounts and in stage 3 it’s tested on people. By the time it’s accepted by the Federal Drugs Authority (at U.S.A.) or the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulation Agency (M.H.R.A.) in Britain, the development costs for a new drug can reach five hundred million dollars, which eventually must be recouped from the customer.
Along with ‘treatment led’ research such as finding compounds that affect cancer cells, fundamental research continues apace, into differences between cancerous and normal cells. In the past 30 years this study has revealed much about our character, but still no cure. Below are a few recent strands of scientific research into cancer. Antibody-guided treatment: this is the first’magic bullet’. Cancer researchers use monoclonal antibodies to take toxins directly to the cancer cells without harming others.
- Chronobiology: much of what happens within our bodies is regulated by cycles, from the female monthly cycle into the cycles of brainwaves. Human health is dependent on interacting cycles geared to acts of perception, respirável, reproduction and renewal. Chronobiology diagnoses these cycles in relation to different times, such as night and day. Hormones, including strain and growth hormones, have their own cycles. For example they are at their greatest activity in the morning and quieter at night. Cancer cells appear to no longer comply with the identical cycle rates as ordinary cells.
- Anti-telomerase: one part of a cell, known as the telomerase, governs the entire life span of a cell and the number of times it might multiply. Some cancer cells escape this control and may increase the amount of times they split, getting ‘immortal’. Researchers hope to gain control over cancer cells by stopping the activity of telomerase.
- Anti-angiogenesis: secondary tumours (metastasis) can convince the cells to grow new blood vessels to nourish the tumours, providing oxygen and nutrients for the developing cancer. This process is called angiogenesis and study here is finding ways to block the signs to normal cells that begin the procedure.
- Anti-adhesion molecules: Cancer cells form into clumps, unlike those in a petri dish that form to a flatter arrangement. When there are clumps of cells that they appear to have a quality that resists treatment. This strand of research looks at ways that could prevent the cells clumping together, by dissolving the clumps for more effective therapy. Anti-oncogene products: certain portions of D.N.A., known as oncogenes, that have an essential role in promoting cancer growth. Drugs that interfere with the creation of oncogenes might be helpful for the future treatment of cancer.
- Gene therapy: study into the use of tumour suppressant genes is emphasized in the British National Cancer Plan as a significant component. Essentially, bits of DNA are added to replace lost or damaged genes, possibly preventing the development of cancer in somebody who may be ‘high risco’.
- Vaccines: very softly the hunt for a general cure for cancer has been put aside in preference for a vaccine. The entire notion of a cure or treatment that is’the exact same for everyone’ breaks down in the case of this particular, disorderly conditions that cause cancer in an individual person. After billions spent on search for the holy grail of a cancer treatment, the research is now on to get a vaccine.
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At a recent cancer immunology conference in the US top immunologists from 21 countries attended lectures on the most recent immunology subjects such as: cancer immunosurveillance, immunoediting, cancer antígeno discovery, monitoring and analysing the immunological response to prostate cancer, cancer vaccine development. The Cancer Vaccine Collaborative (CVC) was launched to much excitement. It’s a special research program which should improve how cancer vaccines are developed, based on a collaboration of six New York medical centers and one in Minnesota.
The aim of the research is to discover the way to effectively immunise against cancer by means of a vaccine, using’action research’. Vaccines made from donor blood are demonstrating to function for some cancers. Experiments with bone marrow transplant show that there are approximately 40,000 different tissue types making it tough to discover a match. Usually a perfect match can only be found within the individual’s direct family. Incorrect matches can produce a plethora of secondary dis-eases.
Scientist are discovering ways to train Killer T cells obtained either from the host or a donor, to more effectively attack cancer cells. They’ve discovered that donor Killer T cells which are already’primed’ for a specific cancer (e.g. the donor body cells’remember’ the disease) can be tremendously effective. It may take several years to demonstrate validity, reliability, safety and efficacy for this treatment. Harvesting the natural imunidade of our own, or donor cells with the help of genetic engineering may well become a huge player against contemporary immune attacking dis-eases. Increased screening: this sort of research looks at genetically identifying people who might be at elevated risk of certain kinds of cancer and is partially a preparation for potential vaccines.
Genetic counseling is set to be a 21st century contributor to healthcare based on prevention of disease as much as treatment. Combinations: study from West Germany (Grossart-Maticek) asserts that there’s not any single cause for cancer, like the pattern in the majority of chronic illness. It shows that there are ecological, psychological and spiritual dimensions to disease. The implication is that treatment should be on the very same amounts, which no single treatment is very likely to be effective because there’s not any single cause. This observation links with the position of several Holistic professionals who often have a broader view of health than orthodox medical professionals. Dr. Robert Buckman is an experienced cancer researcher, and author of the informative publication:’What You should Know About Cancer’.