Targeted Cancer Therapies

The "Smart Bombs" of Cancer Treatment
Scott & White's Role

New targeted therapies, plus immunotherapy and other progressive cancer-killing agents, are helping to advance the ways we treat cancer. Scott & White takes a leading role in developing these treatments.

Because Scott & White Healthcare conducts its own clinical trials through the Cancer Institute and the Cancer Research Institute, we’re on the leading edge of developing new targeted therapy drugs, many of which show promise in treating many forms of cancer.

In addition, we participate in clinical trials using targeted cancer therapy drugs supplied by the National Cancer Institute (U.S. National Institutes of Health). During the clinical trial phases, we follow all standard protocols when giving these drugs to patients.

Targeted therapies are a new approach to treating cancer. Drugs or other substances are now being designed to halt the growth and spread of cancer by disrupting the specific molecules involved in tumor growth.

Targeted therapies rely on molecular biology and genome sequencing technology pathways to determine how cancer spreads and then use drugs to chemically stop that process. Scott & White researchers have maps of the molecular pathways in which particular kinds of cancer multiply. Using these maps, they can design precise new drugs that prevent the cancer cells’ growth. These drugs act like smart bombs honing in on their target with laser-guided precision.

A lot of new targeted therapies are on the horizon as we learn about these molecular pathways.

A. Clay Gowan, DO, Scott & White Medical Oncology

Targeted therapies interfere with cell processes in several ways:

  • Block specific enzymes and growth factor receptors involved in cancer cell production
  • Modify the role of proteins that govern genetic expression
  • Cause cancer cells to undergo cell death
  • Block the blood supply to the cancer cell
  • Help the immune system destroy cancer cells (immunotherapy)
  • Deliver toxic molecules to cancer cells (monoclonal antibodies)
  • Target infectious agents that cause the cancer (vaccines)

Many targeted therapy drugs are approved by the FDA; others are in the testing stage.

Why Targeted Therapies Are Used

Targeted therapies are custom-designed for each cancer. They are part of making individualized cancer treatment a reality. In other words, targeted therapies help doctors tailor your cancer treatment to fit the characteristics of your individual cancer.

A targeted therapy drug may be used alone or in combination with other targeted therapy drugs or in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.

Advantages of Targeted Therapies

Because targeted therapies isolate and strike only the cancer cells, they avoid attacking surrounding healthy tissue. As a result, they often cause little or no collateral damage to your normal cells.

Compared to radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which can damage healthy tissue, targeted therapies have fewer side effects and are less toxic.

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