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Cancer Chemotherapy

 Why is cancer such a difficult disease to treat?

 What challenges do scientists face when developing a new
cancer medicine?
 Why are we bombarded with stories about new ‘miracle’
cancer drugs in the popular press?

 Where did you look for your information and what did you find

 Are you confident that the information you found is valid? How
can you be sure?


Can you find out how cancer medicines were developed? The agency regulating drug
approval is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the Department of
Health and Human Services. FAD is in charge of making sure that new drugs,
vaccines, gene therapies and other biological treatments are safe and effective
before they are reléase-d on the market for standard treatment for cancer patients.
This processes can be 8-10 years. To make certain that new drugs are safe and
effective, first the new drug is studied in the laboratory and with animals. Next,
clinical trials with people are needed to study the safety and best dose of the new
treatment. This is done in Phase I clinical trials.
After the first phase of study is complete, it moves on to Phase II to study how the
new drug works against a specific cancer. Researchers continue to focus on safety
and report the side effects, complications and short-term safety.
If the early phases of the research are promising, the drug continues on to Phase
III which compares the new drug to standard treatment. This is typically done with
hundreds of people across the country or around the world.
Finally, if the new drug proves to be better than the standard treatment, the FDA
reviews all of the research data, including the risks and benefits and any new side
effects, and makes a decision regarding approval.

How was cancer chemotherapy discovered? Chemotherapy was first developed at the
beginning of the 20th century, although it was not originally intended as a cancer
treatment. During World War II, it was discovered that people exposed to nitrogen
mustard developed significantly reduced white blood cell counts. This finding led
researchers to investigate whether mustard agents could be used to halt the growth
of rapidly dividing cells such as cancer cells.
In the 1940s, two prominent Yale pharmacologists, Alfred Gilman and Louis
Goodman examined the therapeutic effects of mustard agents in treating lymphoma.
First, they established lymphomas in mice and showed that the tumors could be
treated with mustard agents. Then, together with a thoracic surgeon called Gustav
Linskog, they injected a less volatile form of mustard gas called mustine (nitrogen
mustard) into a patient who had nonHodgkin's lymphoma.
The scientists found that the patients tumour masses were significantly reduced for
a few weeks after treatment and although the patient had to return to receive more
chemotherapy, this marked the beginning of the use of cytotoxic agents for the
treatment of cancer. The initial study was done in 1943 and the results were
published in 1946.

What was the biggest breakthrough? I think when the scientist discovered (for causality) the
cisplatin.But this component have a problem because it destroys all cells, good cells and cancer cell.

Who was involved in the research? The scientist of United States

 The growth of new blood vessels from existing blood vessels
(usually to sustain the growth of a cancerous tumour).

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 An enzyme. Inhibitors of the Bcr-Abl enzyme have been
developed as medicines (eg Gleevec) to treat a cancer of blood
forming tissue in the body (known as leukaemia).
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 A medicine used to treat various cancers. It is classified as a
non-specific (toxic) drug because it indiscriminately kills cells
(both healthy and cancerous) in the body. It is related in
structure and function to Cisplatin.

Carcinogenic agents
 Chemicals which can cause cancer.

 Cancer medicines.

 Treatment of cancer by the use of medicines.

 A medicine used to treat various cancers. It is classified as a
non-specific (toxic) drug because it indiscriminately kills cells
(both healthy and cancerous) in the body. It is related in
structure and function to Carboplatin.

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DNA alkylating agents

 Drugs which irreversibly stick to (form a physical bond with)
DNA in the body. Many of the non-specific toxic drugs (eg
Carboplatin and Cisplatin) kill cancer cells using this

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 Proteins which catalyse chemical reactions in the body.

 The study of how the environment can influence disease. In the
context of cancer, how the environment can switch genes ‘on’
or ‘off’ and affect the ability of cells to become cancerous.

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 The basic heredity unit. A gene is made up of strands of DNA.

 A drug used to treat various cancers. It works by inhibiting an
enzyme in the body called Bcr-Abl.

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Her2 gene
A gene which can play a role in the progression of breast cancer.
 A drug used to treat breast cancer caused by a faulty Her2

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 The field of science that is devoted to the immune system.

 A type of cancer treatment used to boost the body’s natural
defence mechanism to combat disease.

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Kinase inhibitors
 A type of medicine which works by inhibiting a class of enzyme
in the body called a kinase.

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Lymphoid cells
 Cells in our lymphatic system which play a role in our natural
defence mechanism to combat disease.

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 Usually refers to the cancerous state of a tumour or a cell.
Malignant tumours or cells are defined as cancerous.

 The spread of cancer from one part of the body to another.

Molecular targeted therapeutics

 Medicines which work by targeting a specific protein in the
body. In the context of cancer they are generally safer and
better tolerated by patients than non-specific (toxic) drugs like
Carboplatin and Cisplatin.

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 The field of science that is devoted to cancer.

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 The use of radiation to kill cancer cells and treat cancer.