The Development of Targeted Cancer Therapies

Targeted therapies for cancer have created a revolution within the health care and pharmaceutical industries. Many current products exist in this expanding market, and many others are in various stages of research and development.

A targeted cancer therapy is a medication or other substance that interferes with the development and metastasis of the disease through defusing particular molecules involved, thus halting the disease or delaying its progression. Breast cancer was among the first types of cancer to receive targeted therapies.

Medical professionals frequently refer to the molecules involved as “molecular targets” when treating the disease. Because of this specific targeting, this type of treatment may be more effective, and less damaging to surrounding tissues and organs, than radiation or chemotherapy.

Most targeted therapies consist either of monoclonal antibodies or small-molecule drugs.

Different types of targeted cancer therapies interfere with cellular division and tumor growth in a variety of ways. Some attack cancer cells directly, while others focus on an indirect method through stimulating the immune system to deliver toxins to the cancer cells. Many other targeted therapies disrupt communication along cell pathways by engaging with the proteins involved in network signaling. Such blocking can destroy the cancer cells’ ability to divide and develop, and therefore can result in their destruction.

On the biotechnology investment front, one recent report forecasts nearly $33 billion in global revenue for small-molecule therapy products by the year 2016, which represents an increase of more than $10 billion from 2011 figures. The prospects for ongoing success in research and development of small-molecule therapies should remain strong over the next decade, with demand high in most of the world as populations age.

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