Statistically speaking, one out of every three people reading this article will have cancer at some point in their lives. It is one of the leading killers worldwide, behind only heart disease and complications arising as a consequence of obesity. Sadly, despite literally decades of research, a cure remains elusive. There’s good news on that front, however. Great strides have been made in the treatment of the disease in its many and varied forms, and as of today, cancer survival rates are the best they’ve ever been.
We may not (yet) be able to outright cure the disease, but we’re getting increasingly better at beating it. There are a number of companies engaged in pioneering research that are leading the way in the fight against cancer, and below, we’ll review the stars that are currently shining the brightest.
Actinium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Actinium is focusing their efforts primarily on developing antibodies linked to alpha particles to be used in the treatment of various forms of cancer. The biotech research involved is absolutely cutting edge here. What the company is essentially doing is creating a “smart” particle that’s devastatingly effective at killing cancer cells, but also, is highly selective, and will leave healthy cells alone. That’s the key problem with current, widely used chemotherapy treatments. Yes, the treatment is effective at killing the cancerous cells, but it wrecks absolute havoc on the body’s healthy tissues as well, which is why so many patients undergoing current treatments suffer from hair loss and a variety of illnesses, most of which can be traced back to the treatment itself. Dr. Dave Kaushik, the CEO of Actinium, is hoping to change that in the very near future. Their current research is now moving to phase three trials, which is the final step before seeking FDA approval.
Cancer Research Technology
Led by Dr. Keith Blundy, Cancer Research Technology has been making enormous strides in cutting edge pharmacology research, and has recently doubled the number of scientists on the team from 45 to 90. To give you a sense of scale, most biotech firms are lucky to have a dozen scientists associated with them, so this research group is an absolute behemoth. You’re not alone if you’ve not heard of them, but this English company sees itself as the nexus between academia and the commercial world. As such, you can describe them as the brains behind the big name drug companies you HAVE heard of, like AstraZeneca, FORMA, and Teva. Basically, these guys invent the next generation wonder drugs, then license their discoveries to the big pharma companies to sell.
They’ve got a portfolio of more than two hundred projects, ranging from drug-based therapy to high tech monitoring gear, and have access to a vast pool of nearly half a billion dollars in annual research funding from the world’s largest charitable funder of cancer research, Cancer Research, UK, which they are actually a subsidiary of. A truly remarkable organization, consistently blazing new trails.
The Cancer Research Institute (CRI)
Not to be confused with Cancer Research Technologies, above, CRI has been breaking new ground in the fight against cancer, by heading off in a completely different direction than most of their competitors. Where many other firms are attempting to engineer “smart” drugs to combat the disease, the people at CRI are focused on finding ways to use existing disease in controlled doses to help the body’s own immune system fight back more effectively.
This Immunotherapy approach is radical in many ways, because let’s face it, if you go to the doctor because you have cancer, you don’t really want to hear that in order to cure it, they’re going to introduce your body to some other disease to goad your immune system into fighting back. That’s the essence of what they’re doing though, introducing disease vectors in tightly calibrated amounts, and retaining the ability to neutralize them, once they’ve succeeded in activating the patient’s immune system. This is the very bleeding edge of research, and the organization boasts a better than 90% success rates at treating certain forms of cancer. The approach is currently being revised to expand its scope, but at present, it is absolutely devastating to blood-based cancers, with others sure to follow.
Led by Dr. Nicholas Nicolaides, Morphotek’s cutting edge life science’s division has yet a different approach when it comes to tackling cancer. Knowing that there are more than three hundred different types of cancer, and given the fact that certain cancers respond radically differently when confronted with different currently available treatments, the company has decided to pursue a course of engineering “designer antibodies.” These custom antibodies are engineered in the lab to be hyper-effective at combating one very specific form of cancer, and leaving all other cells untouched.
This is another innovative way around the central problem with so many of today’s cancer treatments. They’ve so broad spectrum that they harm healthy cells and cancerous ones alike. In other words, current treatment options aren’t “smart.” They can’t tell the difference between a cancerous cell and one that’s doing its job as it should be, inside the patient’s body. It just kills everything.
Morphotek’s antibodies are more like snipers. They’re engineered to look for exactly one, very specific target. They find it, hunt it down, and eliminate it. Then, when the treat is gone, they simply go inert. Mission accomplished. So far, the company has been experimenting specifically with ovarian cancer, and has seen remarkable success. They’re planning to expand from beyond that once they’ve demonstrated the effectiveness of their unusual technique.
The bottom line here is that if you have cancer, or if you know someone who does, it’s easy to feel defeated and get discouraged. There’s cause for hope, however. The companies mentioned above are among the brightest stars in the industry, and they’re making huge progress, which is bringing us ever closer to one day finding a cure for this awful disease, in all its various forms. The day is coming when just about anyone who has cancer will not only survive it, but also be rid of it forever. That will be a great day indeed.