The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that almost 900,000 deaths from cancer were avoided between 1990 and 2007. Most recently, cancer incidence rates in men were stable, after decreasing almost 2% from 2001 to 2005. Incidence rates for women have been declining by about 0.6% since 1998. While the report provides a snapshot of recent progress, it also points out the challenges that still exist for researchers, physicians, caregivers, and patients.
In the latest edition of Vital Signs, the editors of Drug Discovery & Development and Bioscience Technology are pleased to present research advances in understanding the mechanisms and origins of cancer, developments on treatments, preventions, and cures.
For years, researchers have tried to develop effective therapeutic vaccines against cancer. The lead article, "Taking a Jab at Cancer", describes how cancer vaccine developers are overcoming scientific challenges and investor resistance.
The approval of Provenge, for hormone-refractory prostate cancer may signal a turning point in vaccine development. The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), reports that more progress was achieved in 2010 than in the preceding decade. Other research breakthroughs, in addition to Provenge, include ipilimumab, improved diagnostic methods using single circulating tumor cell technologies, the identification of the original stem cell for prostate cancer, and temperature-enhanced metastatic therapy.
In “Back to Nature, Spotlight on Cancer Therapeutics” researchers from Cairo University and the National Research Center in Cairo report on recent research advances in therapies derived from active natural products including the water hyacinth, red yeast rice, resveratrol, and Aloe vera.
In "The Case for Epigenetic Oncology Therapy", Syndax Pharmaceuticals Inc. describes a drug discovery platform based on the study of the epigenome—a second layer of information embedded in the proteins that package the DNA of the genome. The company's lead compound, entinostat, recently completed Phase 2 clinical trials in breast and lung cancers.
It its report, ACS reports that progress has not benefited all segments of the population equally. Cancer death rates for individuals with the least education are more than twice those of the most educated. Closing that gap could have prevented 37%—or 60,370—of the premature cancer deaths that occurred in 2007 in people of ages 25 to 64 years.
Closing the research gap for the unknown in cancer will depend on funding for research, advances in technology, and the ongoing efforts of cancer researchers.
Read the Summer 2011 edition of Vital Signs.
Rita Peters, Editorial Director, Drug Discovery & Development
Robert Fee, Editor in Chief, Bioscience Technology
Peter Bennett, Managing Editor, Drug Discovery & Development
Katrina Musto, Associate Editor, Drug Discovery & Development