Posts Tagged cancer

Nanotech easier as cosmetics than drugs

Rick Weiss, who used to work at the Washington Post, has been doing some impressive work for Science Progress, a site run by the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.

He’s been reporting on a series of meetings the FDA has been holding, and along the way, pointing out the challenges in regulating or even defining nanotechnology.¬†One major point is that nanotech in cosmetics or clothing faces less regulation than if it’s sold as a drug.

The folks I know who work with nanotech want to diagnose and treat cancer with it, so they’ll have to endure the acid test of a clinical trial.¬†Notably, the “nanoshell” technology developed by Halas and West at Rice appears to be entering its first clinical trials.

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More mutations

It appears that simply cataloguing mutations in cancer cells doesn’t reveal how they drive growth + metastasis. There are too many to make sense of:

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Changing Strategies vs Cancer

Sharon Begley did a decent job of outlining where cancer research is headed in Newsweek.

She did pick some easy-to-hit targets, such as the idea that cancer can be “conquered.” Similarly, there are probably just as many, if not more, visionary proposals that NCI review panels laugh at today as in 1982.

Yes, animal models are limited. But when somebody has a compound from green tea or a peptide-conjugated anti-tumor missile that kill tumor cells in culture, what tests do scientists need to complete before trying them out on desperate people?

Begley cites three trends for the future: biomarker-directed treatment, more attention to the tumor’s surroundings and prevention. All three make sense with what I’ve seen being discussed at my institution.

With justification, she cites Herceptin and Gleevec as expensive successes. But Avastin as proof that anti-angiogenesis was a good idea, I dunno. This NYT piece this summer calls attention to how expensive Avastin is (tens of thousands of dollars per year), given its limited benefit.

What bothered me about it was that I’ve heard cancer researchers talk about combining Avastin with other agents, as if that were a good bet for the future. Even more expensive! Maybe they can slice and dice the patient pool using biomarkers, so that they can spot the ones who will benefit. Maybe Genentech will drop the price if volume increases as efficacy is shown for more cancers.

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