Cancer is a disease whose prevalence is worrying and for which treatment is often difficult and inefficient. One cause of the difficulty in finding the right therapy is that there is great heterogeneity among cancers. Two tumors targeting the same organ can be very different as they can be caused by different disorders. Characterize the genetic basis of cancer is crucial for effective treatment.
Personalized medicine: the innovative way to treat cancer.
Indeed, cells become cancerous when a disturbance causes they begin to multiply abnormally. The condition is often caused by a change in DNA. You should know that DNA is composed of many genes. These contain the information required for the production of proteins, these small molecular structures fulfilling many essential roles in the cell. An alteration of the DNA sequence of a gene can lead to the generation of a dysfunctional protein.
In cancers, genetic changes often affect genes involved in cell proliferation, which explains the abnormal growth of cancer cells. Also, this modification may lead to either the inactivation of a tumor suppressor gene, whose role is to protect cells or the overactivation of a proliferative gene, leading to excessive cell proliferation.
Three types of changes are generally at the base of the excessive growth of cancer cells. The first can be a mutation of a gene (ie a change in the DNA sequence), causing the inactivation or the overactivation of the protein generated from this gene. Second, a chromosomal amplification may occur, that is to say the multiplication of a DNA fragment in several copies. This tenfold increases the amount of the protein encoded by this gene, involving abnormal increase in business. Finally, the DNA may be modified by chemical groups, which can influence the abundance of the gene product. In short, a cancer is caused by different alterations leading to excessive cell growth.
The chosen treatment to remove cancer depends largely on the charge of disruption modification type. There are many chemotherapeutic agents available to treat cancers. Each of these drugs target a specific cellular dysfunction to stop the wanton proliferation. For this reason, it is beneficial to know the genetic cause leading to cancer in order to choose the best treatment available.
Genetic variations each causing cancer are not well identified and characterized. Pharmacogenomics is a growing field and many research groups are working to decipher all the information contained in the DNA of different cancers and compared to that of normal cells to detect cancer anomalies. The sequencing of tumors generates huge and impressive databases. In addition to meticulous screening, researchers are trying to identify the optimal treatment specific to each oncogenic changes to improve the patient’s chances of recovery.
To analyze different potential treatments, cancer cell lines are used in the laboratory. These cells are an important tool in oncologic study since they are more accessible and available as the cells of patients and they allow to conduct numerous tests and experiments that could lead to the identification of new treatments. Recently, a comprehensive study analyzed 11,289 tumors from 29 different tissues (1). She associated the genetic variations responsible for these tumors to those of cancer cell lines commonly used in laboratories. This study is important primarily because it found that the alterations found in cancer are also reproduced in cell lines, confirming their usefulness in oncology research. Then, following this validation, the researchers generated impressive databank studying the potential of 265 drugs and chemotherapeutic compounds to kill these cells. By treating each of the 1001 cell lines with each of these chemicals, they were able to make many new associations between a compound and a genetic variation causing cancer to find which treatment is most appropriate in different cases. Their study therefore predicts what the best drug to use to treat a specific cancer and thus increase the chances of recovery. The data obtained can also be helpful to find the right drug in cancer cases caused by multiple simultaneous genetic damage. Of course, the identification of changes in the basis of the cancer does not guarantee the success of treatment, but improves the chances of success.
This study is an example of new innovative ways to treat cancer. It also shows how personalized medicine is a promising field that may help improve health care. This type of analysis is applicable to many other types of diseases, such as cardiovascular and neurological diseases. It may be used widely in the coming years and quickly serve the future of medicine.