The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Tigra Scientifica: Tailor-made cancer treatment

​Cancer treatments have become more tailored to individual patients over the last few years, but true personalized treatment remains the ultimate goal. Recently, patient’s genomes have been explored in order to create unique cancer treatments, although in many of these cases the patients still might show little to no improvement. 

 Some tumors are sensitive to certain treatments, but show no signs that would alert doctors to their potential use. A study published in Cell in February of 2015 explored a new process that could treat cancer cells. The cancer cells were isolated from the patient, and then a drug of interest was administered to rapidly get results on its possible effectiveness by looking at the interactions of certain proteins. A newer study published in the British Journal of Cancer in March of 2016 expanded on the process even further by studying new inhibitors that target some of those proteins. Using these new techniques to test an individual’s own cancer cells will, ideally, lead to a future with very personalized cancer therapies that have a much higher chance of success. 
The greatest challenge in cancer treatment is accurately predicting which course of chemotherapy will be most effective in treating a patient. The study published in Cell explored a strategy called Dynamic BH3 Profiling (DBP). DBP is a method that isolates the patient’s cancer cells and exposes them to treatments, and then looks at a class of proteins in the cells called the BCL-2 family that regulate commitment to apoptosis. Apoptosis is a means of cell death, which is the goal when using chemotherapeutic agents on cancer cells. The study published in the British Journal of Cancer expanded on this with the addition of specific BCL-2 inhibitors. There are few inhibitors that are specific enough to be used on the BCL-2 family, but two have been found.
These inhibitors have recently entered clinical trials and function by inhibiting specific anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family members, causing the cell to enter apoptosis.
Both studies take big steps toward the future of personalized cancer treatments. The Dynamic BH3 Profiling rapidly provides valuable information about the cancer cell’s readiness to go down the apoptotic pathway leading to cell death. The specific BCL-2 inhibitors, although limited in their variety, identify cancer cells that are dependent on a single anti-apoptotic BCL-2 family member for survival. The use of the two together will lead to more individualized therapies with greater success.   

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *