News / Health

Study: Combination Therapy Could Revolutionize Cancer Treatment

Lab officer cuts DNA fragment under UV light from an agarose gel for DNA sequencing as part of research to determine genetic mutation in a blood cancer patient, Singapore, file photo.
Lab officer cuts DNA fragment under UV light from an agarose gel for DNA sequencing as part of research to determine genetic mutation in a blood cancer patient, Singapore, file photo.
Jessica Berman
One of the researchers who two decades ago put forward the idea of using drug cocktails to treat people infected with the virus that causes AIDS has concluded that combination therapies could cure cancer.
 
Martin Nowak, Harvard University professor of mathematics and biology, who is also director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, and co-author Ivana Bozic, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics, published their findings in eLife Journal on Thursday.
 
Nowak was among researchers who analyzed data on how quickly the AIDS virus mutates against a single drug, a mid-1990s breakthrough that allowed scientists to drive the AIDS virus to virtually undetectable levels in HIV-infected patients by using a combination of antiretroviral drugs — drug cocktails that could turn a lethal disease into a manageable one.
 
"These calculations led the medical community very quickly to adopt the combination treatment," he said. "And so in some sense, I want to achieve the same for the cancer community."
 
Today many cancer patients are treated with targeted therapy, drugs that inhibit specific genetic mutations that give rise to the growth and spread of tumors. But some cancers often return, according to Nowak, because they develop resistance to a drug that is trained on a single abnormal gene.
 
Resistance to more than one drug can also occur, he adds, if they both target the same genetic mutation or if different therapies are used one after the other, giving the cancer time to develop resistance to both drugs.
 
To figure out a way around the problem, Nowak and colleagues created a computer model, inputting data from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York on patients who had died from melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
 
They also used information on patients from Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Maryland, predicting patients’ response to multiple-drug therapies.
 
The results showed that the virtual patients, with a variety of cancers, could potentially be cured using two drugs that target different genetic mutations simultaneously.
 
That gives Nowak hope for the future of cancer treatment and outcomes.
 
"I’m sure in a few years you will have many success stories when this will gradually lead to a situation where most cancers will be contained in the way that many bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics."
 
A number of pharmaceutical companies around the world are actively pursuing combination therapies that Nowak hopes will revolutionize the treatment of cancer in much the same way that antiretroviral drugs tamed HIV.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid