Blockade of structures targeted by tumor growth and metastasis
After years of intensive research in the field of molecular biology, several drugs have been recently approved for clinical cancer treatment.
The common principle behind these new therapies is the blockade of targets and biological systems/mechanisms that could influence the control of local tumor growth and subsequent metastasis.
Some of these structures are receptors for various growth factors and other "switches" in the cellular portion of these receptors called tyrosine kinases. These switches, when activated, pass on signals over several stops to the cell's nucleus. This then activates genes which control tumor growth, metastasis, angiogenesis in the tumor, and resistance to chemotherapy.
By targeted disruption of these control circuits at crucial points, modern cancer drugs can help prevent tumors from growing.
Some of these medications have already been approved as antibodies (infusion) or small molecules (tablets) for the treatment of some cancers. Many other substances are currently being tested in clinical trials or are due to be approved shortly. Even if molecular therapy has not won the war against cancer, it has meant progress after years of stagnation and a source of hope and confidence for oncologic patients, families, and specialists.