Thursday, September 28, 2023

Why We Should Be Hopeful About The Quest To Solve Cancer.

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(ThySistas.comDuring our lives, many of us will be directly or indirectly affected by cancer. It’s a disease that takes one in three people. And it’s on the rise, especially among black women.

Just last month, however, Obama announced his “moonshot” to rid the world of cancer. Just like Nixon before him, Obama’s dream is for Americans to live without being subjected to this terrible disease. Addressing the nation on the state of the union, he asked all Americans to support his cause in honor of loved ones killed by cancer.

The anti-cancer appeal was an unusually personal matter for Joe Biden. Just nine months ago, he lost his son Beau to brain cancer. Standing behind Obama during the speech, his own passion on the issue was evident.

But the tone of the speech was one of hope, rather than of victory. Obama and his allies still believed that hope was our best weapon for defeating cancer, and also that we’re a long way off. But are we? That’s an interesting question. Many scientists believe we may not be far away at all from genuine, lifesaving treatments for cancer. 2017blackcancerpatientWhat’s more, many of them will be minimally invasive. Here are some of the big themes.

It Can Be Done

The idea that cancer can be cured seems naively optimistic. After all, we’ve been battling this disease for over fifty years and don’t appear to have gotten very far. There’s still no cure.

But the people working on the disease are quietly optimistic. They think that, so long as funding continues, cancer can be stopped.

Breast cancer expert, Dr. Hudis, says that it’s not pie-in-the-sky thinking to think that cancer can be defeated. He says that there’s already plenty of evidence that drugs are having profound effects on the disease. Drugs might not be curing people outright. But there are signs that we’re on the right tracks by making life better for those with the disease.

For instance, bone cancer used to require a bone marrow transplant to treat, as well as bouts of chemo. But now patients can just pop a pill and turn their condition from one that is terminal to one that is chronic. The same is also true for certain types of breast cancers. Some of these can be totally cured. Others are slowed or stopped in their tracks, dramatically extending healthy lifespan.

Gene Editing Holds Great Promise

Currently, Chinese and US scientists are in a race to be the first to use gene-editing to treat cancer in people. A new tool, called CRISPR allows scientists to edit DNA in living people. It’s one of the most exciting breakthroughs of our time.

That probably explains why both the US and China are pushing forward on the technology. Both countries want to develop it further and reap some of the enormous rewards.

One of the most exciting ideas is to make edits to a person’s genome to get their own immune system to attack their cancer. At the moment, cancers have the ability to hide from the body’s immune system. They let off signals that trick the body into thinking that they are healthy tissue. And, as a result, the body’s immune system completely passes them by. Ideally, we’d like it if the body’s immune system could attack the cancer cells and destroy them. But getting it to do that has proven difficult.

Now scientists think they know how cancer shuts down the immune system. Cancer cells change genes in the body that turn off the immune response. As a result, the cancer is free to grow and spread as it pleases. But gene editing can change all that. Scientists are hopeful that by making changes to the genome, they can undo cancer’s trickery. And thereby induce the body to start attacking cancerous cells again.

It’s not a long shot either. Scientists have already successfully tinkered with patient’s T-cells. And there’s every sign that the treatment will work in principle. What’s more, this kind of therapy might be useful against a whole host of different cancers.

Scientists still have a lot to learn about genome editing, however. Over recent years, there have been some setbacks. But the overall trend is one that is fundamentally optimistic about the future.

More Funding

In 2015, the NIH bagged another $2 billion in cancer research funding. The funding was a welcome relief for the department which is investing heavily in cancer cures. According to the data, the $2 billion boost is the biggest increase in the budget the agency has had for 12 years.

It’s a big turnaround for the department. The funding rate for research projects declined substantially between 1997 and 2013. In real terms, less money was being spent, even though the technology today is far superior.

This turnaround in funding offers yet more hope to patients and relatives of those with cancer. Arguably, every unit of financing today is worth more than in the past. Scientists are now able to get significantly more bang for their buck in many areas.

The extra funding is welcome, of course. But top experts say that they would prefer steady and predictable year on year increases instead of big chunks. Funding increases should be approved by Congress years in advance, they say. People in the industry need to see that cancer research is a viable career option with a long-term investment. Otherwise, they’ll go into different fields of research, and the cancer problem will remain unsolved.

Researchers Are Opening Up Their Data

The competition to obtain cancer research funding is intense. Researchers have to take in-depth cancer research proposals. And they worry that if they share their data, they’ll lose out to the competition.

But now Joe Biden is looking for ways to solve this problem. He sees data-sharing as one of the best ways to supercharge cancer research. If there’s political movement on this issue, we could see cancer researchers open up their data. Then we might see even more rapid progress in the fight to end cancer.

Staff Writer; Sandra Goose


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  1. […] not take. There’s no guaranteed cure for cancer yet, but we should keep our hopes up that a cure for cancer will appear in the future. In the meantime, you can avoid increasing the risk by following this list of some of the most […]

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