Cancer treatments have been advancing at an accelerated pace in recent years and offering notable improvements in clinical benefit to patients. New therapeutic strategies involving areas like personalized medicine, nanomedicine, use of radioactive implants along with advances in immunotherapy and targeted treatments are driving the next generation of cancer treatments. The present article discussed the top 10 innovation in the last 2 years which had a significant impact on the management of cancer patients.
Conventional therapies for cancer such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy remain a mainstay in treatment, but in many cases, a targeted approach is lacking and patients can be vulnerable to drug resistance. In recent years, novel concepts have been emerging to improve traditional therapeutic options in cancer treatment. Here are some recent innovations that have changed the way cancer is treated.
- Personalized or Precision Medicine 1
Cancer in one person doesn't always behave the same way in another person. Personalized or precision medicine helps to modify cancer treatment to a person's tumour. The gene changes (mutations) are unique to the tumour which can help doctors to decide which treatment is likely to work best. The ability to pinpoint genetic abnormalities in a tumour by genomic sequencing allows oncologists to appropriately use targeted therapies.
- AccuBoost in breast radiotherapy 2
This therapy enables radiation oncologist to target the boost dose to the lumpectomy cavity (the tissue site that most likely for future cancer recurrence). The treatment by AccuBoost technology combines a non-invasive method of delivering a targeted beam with the power of real-time image guidance. This therapy delivers the radiation dose accurately and reliably to the surgical excision site. Additionally, the AccuBoost process strongly limits unintentional exposure to healthy tissue (such as heart, lungs, and chest wall) and minimizes radiation-related side effects.
The engineered antibodies are used to target a particularly significant immune receptor called 4-1BB, which can activate killer T-cells to find and destroy cancer cells. This can be applied to both ovarian cancer and a common form of non-melanoma skin cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma. 3
- Nanomedicine in Cancer Treatment
Nanomedicine includes the use of multifunctional nanoparticle based on a dense nanocrystalline metal oxide core (zinc oxide) shielded with a lipidic bilayer which is highly stable in biological media for long-term applications. Such highly engineered and functionalized nanoparticles can be used for cancer treatment and molecular imaging. 4
- Use radioactive Implants:
Brachytherapy involves planting and leaving radioactive pellets or “seeds” at the site of a malignant tumour. It’s used to treat cancer of the prostate, cervix, brain and other parts of the body. The implants provided stable tumour control and limited the risk of radiation side effects. The use of Cesium-131 brachytherapy implants result in less damage to healthy brain tissue than whole-brain radiation or stereotactic radiosurgery.1
- BRCA testing Kit:
The patient can now use at-home genetic testing kits to check whether they have three BRCA gene mutations linked to breast, ovarian and possibly other types of cancer. The patient has to provide a saliva sample to be analyzed.
- Checkpoint inhibitors:
The checkpoints are present on the surface of the human body’s cells. It informs to immune system they are friendly cell and not cancer cells. Sometimes cancer cells hide behind these checkpoints so the immune system can’t find them. The uses of Checkpoint Inhibitors remove these checkpoints so the immune system can find and attack cancer cells. These are proven valuable as initial therapy for advanced non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). 5,6
- Targeted Treatments
Targeted treatments work on targeting particular genes, proteins, and blood vessels that help cancer cells grow and spread. These treatments are different from traditional cancer treatment like chemotherapy which acts on all fast-growing cells. For e.g. Trastuzumab (Herceptin) treats breast cancers that have the HER-2 gene mutation. 5,6
- CAR T-cell therapy:
This therapy works on collecting and using patient’s own immune cells to treat their own cancer. The T cells were removed from the blood and by changing genes in the cells to help them to find and destroy the cancer cells. This therapy also called Adoptive cell Transfer (ACT) for example the treatment of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and the other for adults with advanced lymphomas are approved ACT.
Laser therapy for cancer treatment involves a special light beam passing through the endoscope. The endoscope is inserted in the body to treat cancer or pre-cancerous growth which causes less bleeding and fewer damages to normal tissue. There are different types of lasers used for the treatment of cancer such as carbon dioxide, neodymium: yttrium-aluminium-garnet, argon laser, and laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy. Some of the cancers treated by using laser therapy are vocal cord cancer, cervical cancer, skin cancer, lung cancer, vaginal cancer and penile cancer.7
- https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/slideshows/10-innovations-in-cancer-therapy?slide=3, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
- https://www.21co.com/radiation-therapy/technologies/accuboost, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
- https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-11-antibody-breakthrough-cancer.html, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
- Charmsaz S, Prencipe M, Kiely M, Pidgeon G, Collins D. Innovative Technologies Changing Cancer Treatment. Cancers. 2018 Jun;10(6):208.
- https://www.webmd.com/cancer/detect-treat-cancer-17/advances-cancer-treatment, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
- https://www.asco.org/research-progress/reports-studies/clinical-cancer-advances-2019/advances-cancer-treatment, Last accessed on 7thMarch 2019.
- Vunnava A. Review Article Open Access: Innovative Cancer Treatments. Curr Synthetic Sys Biol. 2015 April; 3(001):