Approaching a Cure for Cancer

A good survey of the next generation of cancer therapies can be found at Emergent Fool. I do not expect cancer to be a major threat to health in 2030 thanks to the development of robust cures for even late stage metastasis. "Biris and Zharov are making some exciting progress in using nanotubes to tag and then track cancer cells inside the body as they move around. They propose to kill the cancer cells by heating up the nanotubes using lasers ... The immune system is really good at identifying and killing cells behaving badly (although the majority of the time the immune system's targets are foreign invaders like viruses). But what if we could boost the immune system so that it was better able to deal with cancer cells? Essentially create a vaccine for cancer. ... Modifying genes, either by enhancing tumor suppressors or reducing tumor promotors, has been a popular appoach in recent years. Often the approach has been to focus on individually important genes or to try to find exhaustive sets of genes which, when modified appropriatly, stop cancer progression. ... De Grey proposes [that] the only real approach is [to] take specific steps to intervene on a regular basis so that somatic evolution stays in check and we don’t get the unregulated proliferation and invasiveness that is cancer. His WILT approach argues we achieve this by regulating the length of telomeres which are critical to the proliferation process. Carlo Maley says that the WILT approach should work, but the technology is a far way off and it's hard work to go this route. Maley believes that we may be closer on the prophylactic front with by boosting cancer-suppression genes, as in the super p53 approach."


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