6 innovative developments in the battle against cancer

According to the World Health Organization, cancer was the world’s biggest cause of death in 2020, taking the lives of close to 10 million people. Among the most prevalent cancers include breast, lung, and colon cancers. Prior to the epidemic, cancer death rates were decreasing. A significant backlog in cancer diagnosis and treatment has now been created by COVID-19.

But the global fight against cancer is still being aided by medical advancements. Here are a few current events.

Precision oncology

Sizhen Wang, CEO of Genetron Health, writes in a blog post for the World Economic Forum that precision oncology is the “greatest new weapon to battle cancer.” This entails examining the molecular make-up and genetic composition of each patient’s cancer tumours. The precision oncology method finds cell alterations that could be causing the disease to advance and spread. Afterward, customised therapies might be created. Targeted cancer treatments, as opposed to more general ones like chemotherapy, can potentially cause less damage to healthy cells and have fewer side effects because they are less broad-based.

Artificial intelligence fights cancer

In India, World Economic Forum partners are using emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to transform cancer care. For instance, AI-based risk profiling can assist in cancer screening, resulting in early diagnosis of common malignancies like breast cancer. In situations when imaging specialists might not be available, AI technology can potentially be utilised to examine X-rays and spot tumours. These two cancer interventions are two of the 18 that The Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution of the World Economic Forum India wants to speed up.

Clues in the DNA of cancer

Scientists report that the DNA of cancer tumours from 12,000 patients at Cambridge University Hospitals in England is providing fresh information on the causes of cancer. Oncologists are finding several mutations that have contributed to each person’s cancer by studying genomic data. For instance, cigarette smoking, exposure to UV light, or cellular internal problems. The scientists compare them to “fingerprints in a crime scene,” and more of them are being discovered. The study’s lead author, Dr. Andrea Degasperi of the Department of Oncology at Cambridge University, claims that “we identified 58 novel mutational signs and expanded our knowledge of cancer.”

Liquid and synthetic biopsies

Biopsies are the main way doctors diagnose cancer – but the process is invasive and involves removing a section of tissue from the body, sometimes surgically, so it can be examined in a laboratory. Liquid biopsies are an easier and less invasive solution where blood samples can be tested for signs of cancer. Synthetic biopsies are another innovation that can force cancer cells to reveal themselves during the earliest stages of the disease.

CAR-T-cell therapy

A treatment that makes immune cells hunt down and kill cancer cells was recently declared a success for leukaemia patients. The treatment, called CAR-T-cell therapy, involves removing and genetically altering immune cells, called T cells, from cancer patients. The altered cells then produce proteins called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). These recognize and can destroy cancer cells. In the journalNature, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania announced that two of the first people treated with CAR-T-cell therapy were still in remission 12 years on.

Fighting pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. It is rarely diagnosed before it starts to spread and has a survival rate of less than 5% over five years. At the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, scientists have developed a test that was able to identify 95% of early pancreatic cancers in a study. The research, published in Nature Communications Medicine, explains how biomarkers in extracellular vesicles – particles that regulate communication between cells – were used to detect pancreatic, ovarian and bladder cancer at stages I and II.

You are currently viewing 6 innovative developments in the battle against cancer