July 22, 2008

Pioneering Drug Offers Hope to Prostate Cancer Sufferers – but Not for Three Years: Analysis: Search for ‘Wonder Drug’ Brings New Hope to Patients

By Lyndsay Moss

THE last decade has seen major leaps forward in cancer treatment in the search for the latest "wonder drug".

Developments such as the creation of drugs which target particular types of cancer have brought new hope to patients.

These include treatments such as Herceptin for breast cancer, which works when cancer cells have a large amount of a protein called HER2.

New drugs are also being developed that block hormones driving many cancers, such as prostate, testicular and breast cancer.

Scientists are also developing tests to show which patients are most likely to respond to drugs.

A test to show if a drug will aid a specific patient is likely to lead to more patients accessing treatment, as money is not wasted elsewhere. One of the most exciting developments of recent years has been the creation of the first cancer vaccine. This targets the human papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer.

Widespread vaccination of schoolgirls is starting this year in the UK, though it will be several years before results are seen. Work is also continuing to develop vaccines to treat those already diagnosed with cancer.

The biggest challenge facing scientists, however, is the ever- evolving nature of cancer, as patients will eventually become resistant to many of the treatments being developed.

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