Targeted cancer therapy is a type of cancer treatment that specifically targets certain molecules or genetic abnormalities involved in the growth and spread of cancer cells. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which can affect both cancer cells and normal cells, targeted therapy aims to selectively kill cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells, leading to fewer side effects.
Types of Targeted Cancer Therapies
Monoclonal antibodies: These are laboratory-produced antibodies that can recognize and bind to specific proteins on cancer cells. By binding to these proteins, monoclonal antibodies can block certain growth signals or deliver toxic substances directly to the cancer cells, leading to their destruction.
Small molecule inhibitors: These are drugs that interfere with specific molecules or signaling pathways involved in cancer cell growth and survival. Small molecule inhibitors are often designed to target specific genetic mutations or abnormal proteins that are characteristic of certain types of cancer.
Immunotherapies: These treatments harness the power of the immune system to fight cancer. For example, immune checkpoint inhibitors block proteins that prevent immune cells from attacking cancer cells, allowing the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively.
Gene expression modulators: These therapies aim to control the expression of genes involved in cancer growth and progression. They can either inhibit the activity of oncogenes (genes that promote cancer) or enhance the activity of tumor suppressor genes (genes that prevent cancer).
Anti-angiogenic drugs: Tumors require a blood supply to grow and spread. Anti-angiogenic drugs work by inhibiting the formation of new blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to tumors, thereby starving them and inhibiting their growth.
Targeted therapies are often used in combination with other cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. The choice of targeted therapy depends on the specific characteristics of the cancer, such as genetic mutations or protein expression patterns.
It's important to note that targeted therapies are not effective for all types of cancer. They are most commonly used for cancers that have specific molecular targets or genetic alterations. The availability of targeted therapies depends on the specific type and stage of cancer and is determined by healthcare professionals.