Therapies that are transforming the fight against cancer | Health

In the battle against cancer, precision medicine is emerging as a groundbreaking approach that offers hope for more effective treatments and improved patient outcomes. Unlike traditional one-size-fits-all cancer therapies, precision medicine customises treatment plans for individual patients based on their genetic makeup, enabling doctors to target the disease with unprecedented accuracy.

Therapies that are transforming the fight against cancer (Getty Images/iStockphoto/PIC FOR REPRESENTATION)

This innovative approach is reshaping the landscape of cancer care and holds the potential to revolutionise the field.

Understanding Precision Medicine

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative Medicine Researcher and Founder of StemRx BioScience Solutions India, shared, “Precision medicine, also known as personalized or genomic medicine, is an approach that considers the genetic and molecular characteristics of a patient’s cancer when designing a treatment plan. The fundamental idea behind precision medicine is that not all cancers are the same; they differ at the genetic level, which can significantly affect how they respond to treatment. By analysing the genetic mutations and alterations present in a patient’s tumour, oncologists can identify specific therapies that are more likely to be effective.”

The Role of Genomic Sequencing

Dr Pradeep Mahajan explained, “Genomic sequencing is a key component of precision medicine in cancer. This process involves analyzing the entire genetic code of a patient’s tumor and identifying mutations and alterations that drive the cancer’s growth. By understanding the unique genetic makeup of each patient’s cancer, doctors can match targeted therapies that are designed to block or inhibit the specific molecular pathways driving the disease.”

Targeted Therapies

According to Dr Pradeep Mahajan, one of the most significant advantages of precision medicine is the development of targeted therapies. He elaborated, “These drugs are designed to specifically target the genetic mutations or alterations responsible for a patient’s cancer. By zeroing in on the molecular drivers of the disease, targeted therapies can often achieve better outcomes with fewer side effects compared to traditional treatments like chemotherapy, which can affect both healthy and cancerous cells.”

Immunotherapy and Precision Medicine

Dr Pradeep Mahajan highlighted, “Immunotherapy is another area where precision medicine is making remarkable strides. This approach harnesses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Through genomic profiling, researchers can identify specific biomarkers that indicate whether a patient is likely to respond to immunotherapy. This enables oncologists to tailor treatment plans and select the most appropriate immunotherapies for individual patients.”

Challenges and Future Directions

Dr Pradeep Mahajan said, “While precision medicine offers tremendous promise, it is not without its challenges. Access to genomic sequencing and targeted therapies can be limited for some patients due to cost and availability. Furthermore, not all cancers have well-established targeted therapies, and ongoing research is needed to expand the repertoire of precision treatments. The future of precision medicine in cancer lies in continued research, technological advancements, and collaboration among healthcare professionals, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies. As more data is collected and analyzed, our understanding of cancer genetics will deepen, leading to more effective treatments and improved patient outcomes.”

He concluded, “Precision medicine is transforming the field of oncology by tailoring cancer treatments to individual patient’s unique genetic profiles. As our knowledge of cancer genetics continues to expand, so does the potential for more effective and less toxic therapies. While challenges remain, the promise of precision medicine in the fight against cancer is undeniable. This groundbreaking approach is giving hope to countless patients and changing the way we think about and treat this devastating disease.”

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