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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs