The First Step Toward a Targeted Approach
Cancer is the most formidable healthcare challenge of our time. The most heavily invested area of drug development is in the search for new agents to treat cancer. There may be hundreds of mutations in every tumor, and determining the ones that drive disease progression is the first step toward a targeted approach. Finding drugs that target the mutations or proteins that arise as a result of them is high priority.
Finding Effective Cancer Therapies
As Hanahan and Weinberg point out in their famous “Hallmarks of Cancer,”* the ability of a drug to interfere with any of these processes resulting in a therapeutic effect (ie, increased PFS or OS), represents a validation of the hallmark’s capability to promote disease.
Unfortunately each of these hallmarks represents a property with redundant pathways within the cancer cell which ultimately may need to be shut down in order to slow or reverse disease progression.
The ability of cancer cells to adapt to the deleterious effects of agents targeted to specific hallmark processes makes finding effective therapies even more difficult.
So, what does all of this mean for drug developers and why are we discussing it here?