New Cancer Treatments
When an individual is diagnosed with cancer, most people assume the common course of treatment will involve some combination of radiation and/or chemotherapy treatments. Until recently, these have been the most viable options for targeting and attempting to eradicate cancerous cells in the body. Medical advancements are bringing exciting new cancer treatments to light. Some are cutting edge and remain experimental, while others have already earned Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the United States.
Outside the Box Treatment
Some of the latest cancer treatments diverge from the traditional approach of chemotherapy and radiation, and remain experimental in nature right now. The Los Angeles Times reported on an approach from Kite Pharma of El Segundo, California. The company’s unique approach to treating non-Hodgkins lymphoma seeks to reprogram the T-cells in the human body. T-cells are supposed to fight disease in the body, but often destroy indiscriminately within the body during cancer.
Kite Pharma works with doctors to withdraw a patient’s blood, fly it to their offices in California, and modify the T-cells to target and destroy only the abnormal, cancerous lymph cells in the body, leaving healthy ones untouched. The blood is then shipped back to the doctor and re-injected into patients to boost their ability to fight off this particular form of cancer.
There’s also the case of an experimental gene therapy drug that has been shown to double the survival rate of those suffering from glioblastoma. The aggressive brain cancer often kills two-thirds of patients within five years, and for those who do beat, recurrence of the brain cancer often results in death within weeks or months.
A new drug known as VB-111 has shown an ability during Phase II clinical trials in Europe to block the cancer’s ability to grow new blood vessels by using a substance the tumor secretes to actually activate the drug.
Newly Approved Treatments
While the drugs mentioned above remain in clinical trial phases, there are some exciting and promising new drugs that have already earned FDA approval, and could start changing lives for a wider swath of the population soon. WebMD offers the details on a new treatment for melanoma that uses genetically modified cold sore viruses to destroy melanoma tumors. The drug works by targeting lesions in the skin and lymph nodes, effectively causing the tumors to rupture and die. The drug has won approval, but is only suitable for use in cases where the cancer had not spread to other parts of the body.
Metastatic pancreatic cancer may eventually meet its match in the form of irinotecan liposome injections. This approved new drug extends the average longevity of cancer patients with this severe form of pancreatic cancer from 4.2 months on average to 6.1 months when combined with other treatments.
Finally, there is new hope in the fight against lung cancer. One of the deadliest forms of cancer, advanced lung cancer may face a threat from a drug called Keytruda. The drug uses the body’s immune system to more effectively fight tumors by taking advantage of a faulty function in a pathway known as PD-1/PD-L1. The goal of blocking the pathway is to help the body’s immune system fight off the cancer cells.