The Oncology team at HC Marbella, led by Dr Hernán Cortés-Funes, believe there are many reasons to be positive
about future cancer research. Here we share5 promising advances which are transforming the way we think about
cancer and its treatment options.
- Precision medicine: interpreting the gene story
The options available for many people with cancer havesignificantly improved through targeted therapy which reverses the effects of specific genetic mutations in tumorcells. Scientists are working tirelessly to be able to translateprecision medicine for use in patients with all types ofcancer. Expert diagnostic pathologists are using a powerful, tumor DNA sequencing test to guide therapy in patients with advanced disease, irrespective of the type of tumor.
- Targeted immunotherapy (Checkpoint Inhibitors): triggering immune defence.
Currently both the FDA and the European Medicines Agency have approved severaldrugs which enhance the fight against cancer by the immune system’s T cells. These drugs belong to a class of immunotherapy treatments known as “Checkpoint Inhibitors” which help to boost the immune system’s function. Until now they have obtained significant results, achieving complete elimination of cancer in some patients with advanced melanoma.
- Cellular therapy: “Living drugs” to fight cancer better (CAR Therapy).
In addition to these drugs, other immunotherapy strategies are beingdeveloped, in which the patient’s own T cells are manipulated to more readily attack cancer cells. “Living drugs are being created,” states Dr. Cortés-Funes, Head of Oncology at HC Marbella, about CAR therapy. The concept of these drugs/treatments in which living cells are infused or transplanted into patients, is very exciting as the cells are presumed to be more agile than chemical or biological components. For example, they can detect multiple signals in their environment and respond appropriately. Scientists are still working to guarantee the safety of cellular therapy and control its side effects.
4. Epigenetic therapy: Keeping cancer cells “at bay”.
Epigenetic research, or research into how genes can be activated or deactivated depending on external influences, is changing our understanding of cancer and many other diseases. Instead of destroying cancer cells, epigenetic therapies try to return them to their normal growth path. One of these drugs is being tested in people with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes, with a response rate of 38% in patients whose AML had recurred and was resistant to treatment.
5. Research into Metastasis: Revealing the dormant enemy.
In the last few years, scientists have identified genes and pathways which cause the spread of breast cancer or neuroblastoma to the brain, and of kidney cancer to other organs. In 2014 it was discovered that metastatic tumor cells have a notable tendency to adhere to blood vessels, a survival mechanism which could be significant for the propagation of many types of cancer. Research has also delivered clues on how cancer cells hide and remain undetected by our immune system, which opens up a new, promising line of treatment.
Come and see us about your or your loved one’s case. In Spain, our Oncologists and Specialist Consultants are leaders in their field, with recognitionthroughout Europe. They work inmultidisciplinary committees with the aim of obtaining the best results for you.