Impact of Targeted Therapies

What impact will targeted therapies have on cancer treatment?

  • Targeted cancer therapies give doctors a better way to tailor cancer treatment, especially when a target is present in some but not all tumors of a particular type, as is the case for HER-2. Eventually, treatments may be individualized based on the unique set of molecular targets produced by the patient’s tumor. Targeted cancer therapies also hold the promise of being more selective for cancer cells than normal cells, thus harming fewer normal cells, reducing side effects, and improving quality of life.
  • Nevertheless, targeted therapies have some limitations. Chief among these is the potential for cells to develop resistance to them. In some patients who have developed resistance to imatinib, for example, a mutation in the BCR-ABL gene has arisen that changes the shape of the protein so that it no longer binds this drug as well. In most cases, another targeted therapy that could overcome this resistance is not available. It is for this reason that targeted therapies may work best in combination, either with other targeted therapies or with more traditional therapies.
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