Cancer scientists aim to double survival rate in a decade

Cancer scientists aim to double survival rate in a decade

3d illustration of T cells or cancer cells;  Shutterstock ID 433526728;  Purchase order: -

A 3D illustration of a cancer cell (Credit: Shutterstock)

Scientists think they could double the survival of people with advanced cancer within a decade.

World-renowned experts from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust have said cutting-edge research will mean more people will be cured while others will live much longer.

Cancer scientists are gaining more and more knowledge about what they describe as the “cancer ecosystem”.

This is the complex system that allows cancer cells to thrive. It is made up of cancer cells, the immune system, and the molecules, cells, and structures that surround tumors and help them grow.

Experts from ICR and Royal Marsden believe that by using multiple attack methods, they can make great strides in areas such as destroying cancer cells, boosting the body’s ability to fight cancer -even and suppressing the means used by healthy cells to help cancer survive.

In one development, they hope to break the ability of cancer cells to ask other cells in the body to come and support tumors.

For example, cancer cells currently send signals to areas such as the bone marrow to tell “slave cells” to make a “nest” in other parts of the body for cancer cells to take up residence.

Interrupting these systems would help stop the spread of cancer.

Other areas of development include combining existing treatments for better effect and using immunotherapy to help the body’s immune system fight cancer.

Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapeutics at ICR and consultant at Royal Marsden, told a briefing: ‘We recognize that a lump of cancer in a patient is so much more than just a lump of cancer cells.

“This is a complex ecosystem and certain elements of this ecosystem lend themselves to more advanced forms of targeting which will provide us with a great number of opportunities to cure more patients and to do so with fewer side effects. “

He said experts were already learning how they could use drugs that don’t directly kill cancer, but “rather talk to the immune system, increasing the function of cells that can attack cancer cells and dampen or regulate down the functions of cells that naturally tend to protect cancer cells”.

He said this shifts “the balance within the cancer ecosystem to an environment more conducive to the anti-cancer effects of our standard therapies and new therapies that we will develop.”

One of the research avenues is to use genetically modified viruses to “target cancer cells and also to talk to the microenvironment, the ecosystem in which the cancer is found, in order to generate a signal to reject the cancer and kill these cells. cancerous,” said Professor Harington said.

Researchers will also expand studies of microscopic fragments of cancer shedding into the bloodstream in an effort to catch the disease early and help inform treatment.

Photo of cancer drug;  Getty Images

Cancer scientists now understand more about the ‘ecosystem’ of the disease (Credit: Getty)

Dr Olivia Rossanese, director of cancer drug discovery at the ICR, said: “Newer, more personalized treatments are helping people with cancer live well longer, but some types of the disease remain very difficult to treat, and once the cancer has spread is still often incurable.

“We plan to open entirely new lines of attack against cancer, so that we can overcome cancer’s deadly ability to evolve and become resistant to treatment.

“We want to discover better targets within tumors and the broader ecosystem that we can attack with drugs.

“We are finding powerful new ways to completely eradicate cancerous proteins and discovering smarter combination treatments that attack cancer on multiple fronts.

“Together, this three-pronged approach can create smarter, gentler cancer treatments and give patients a longer life with fewer side effects.”

Launching a five-year joint research strategy, Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of the ICR, said: “We have created a truly exciting plan to unravel and disrupt cancer ecosystems, with new immunotherapies, drugs to targeting the tissue environment and novel anti-evolution combinations and dosing strategies.

“Research has been a driver of remarkable improvements in treatments over the past few decades, but we believe we can go even further and eradicate certain cancers by targeting the ecosystems necessary for their growth or by tipping the balance in favor of cancer. immune system.”

Scientists hope to use artificial intelligence (AI) to design new ways to combine drugs or intelligently adjust their dosage to cut or slow cancer growth.

They also hope to reveal more about how different types of cells within a tumor associate and work together, potentially opening up new targets for treatment.
Professor Harrington said: “Immunotherapy has started to revolutionize the treatment of some cancer patients – we are even starting to see cures in people with advanced disease who until recently were destined to die. of their cancer.

“But unfortunately immunotherapy doesn’t work for all patients or all types of cancer, and we need to do much better both to predict whether it will work and to increase the effectiveness of treatment.

“We believe there are huge opportunities to use combinations of immunotherapy and other treatments like radiotherapy to disrupt the cancer ecosystem.

“We aim to tip the scales in favor of the immune system and make the environment inhospitable to cancer cells and favorable to elements of the immune system that can attack them, so that we can eradicate the disease in the body.”

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