No Silver Bullet

After forty years and over a trillion dollars spent, researchers and medical professionals realized there is no silver bullet “cure” for cancer.  Cancer is a complex disease that stems and mutates from one’s own tissue.  It changes over time resulting in multiple forms of individual cancer cells as a patient’s cancer progresses to later stages.  This complexity of disease has been the cause of failure of all those seeking to find a silver bullet “cure” for cancer.  This journey, though, has led to the way we can defeat cancer.

A new era of molecular targeted agents, therapeutic vaccines and biologics have been developed and are continually being discovered.  Molecular diagnostics are evolving to match drugs to patients likely to respond so that doctors can hone in on the best treatments for each patient.  However, even with all this, most treatments will never be commercialized in the US.  They are incorrectly measured for how drugs need to be brought together and used to win the war on cancer.

Because most patients with cancer have a complex and diverse disease (many cell types and cell mutations in a single tumor), many need more than one treatment to stop disease progression.  Available therapies can be sequenced or combined into an overall treatment plan for individual patients.  This requires a large arsenal of options to address the diversity of cancer from patient to patient. This however, is too significant a hurdle to rest on the FDA clinical approval process, as we will wait for another fifty years with little and slow progress.

Agents, Vaccines (immunotherapies), and Biologics present several very important areas of attack within molecular targeted medicine.  For cancer, agents and biologics are able to dismantle or stop proliferation of  certain cancer cells as they are destructive only to a uniquely cancerous process within the target type of cancer cell.  Vaccines do the same thing only they educate the immune system to attack only cancer cells.  Many vaccine technologies also have advanced to be able to type one’s full disease profile and create individual custom vaccines from a single vaccine platform.  However, the FDA approves each compound, not each vaccine platform, precluding most forms of individualized vaccine development.

Click Here for identified breakthroughs in various stages of clinical study for specific or general cancers.  These do not represent all major advances in cancer.



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