Popular Science News | Top 5 Potential Cancer Treatments

Popular Science News – the reason the Cancer Treatments below are called ‘potential’ is because they are still in early-stage clinical trials and are a few years from being available to you and me.

No.1: RNA Interference – is the process of creating and introducing into our bodies molecules which turn off a cancer. Unfortunately, they look like attacking viruses to our bodies and are therefore destroyed by our anti-bodies. The problem here is not making the cure, it’s delivering it. Some headway has been made in the case of liver cancer with tumour growth being stalled in 7 out of 37 patients. The expectation is that this cure would be available in the early 2020’s.

No.2: Nanoparticles – this is not a cure itself but an enhanced delivery system for current drugs which allows them to be used at much higher levels because of reduced toxicity. In other words, using more drugs used to be out of the question because they destroy both healthy and cancer cells but packaged with nanoparticles this would be possible.

No.3: Super-bugs -many strains of common bacteria, eg salmonella and E.coli, tend to target, and live inside, cancer cells. They hide there away from the immune system. They can also be engineered to give out toxins which could destroy the cancer cell. Very few trials have been carried out on humans but this treatment is potentially quite straightforward when used with harmless bacteria, eg gut bacteria.

No.4: Immunotherapy -we already have an immune system, it takes a few days to adapt to disease causing agents but once it has it naturally destroys them. In days before effective medicine, keeping a patient alive for long enough for the immune system to come into play was probably the only method of cure. In the case of cholera, for example, this meant replacing loss fluids and electrolytes while the body did its job. In fact, you may have already had a cancer which your immune system discovered and destroyed before you knew it. In some cases patients have seen tumours suddenly disappear. This is where the tumour’s signal to the immune system to leave it alone fails. One sad fact is that chemo and radio-therapy weakens the immune system. The way forward here is merely to alert the immune system to the presence of cancer cells and then let it get on with its job.

No.5: Viro-therapy – a virus destroys cells as part of the process it uses to reproduce itself. The idea here is to genetically modify a virus so it will only destroy cancer cells. A herpes virus has been used in trials and was effective in the case of 8 out of 50 patients it was used on.

So, there is so hope for cancer sufferers in the future and it is good to know that pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizers, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck have potential cures in the pipeline and that it is just a matter of time before they are ready to be prescribed generally.

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