Targeted therapies, a possible alternative to treatments like chemotherapy, have been in the news for a number of years.

While chemo targets and kills any rapidly dividing cell (including hair, nails, lining of the digestive track),  targeted therapies are directed at the very proteins that ensure the tumour’s growth or survival, but are not found in normal, healthy cells. The ultimate factor in whether or not these targeted therapies will be successful is whether or not the patient has correct gene mutations for the therapy. 

Of course, it’s not as simple as any of us wish to imagine, and recent news confirms that we are still a long way from fully understanding the complex nature of cancerous tumours. For example, experimental drug PLX4032 showed incredible promise in patients suffering from melanoma, but did little to control the growth and survival of colorectal tumours with the same mutations. Click here to read more about the initial trial.

Back in February, the New York Times ran a three-part video series called A Rollercoaster Chase for a Cure, which followed four metastatic cancer patients as they participated in clinical trials for targeted therapies. It’s worth a watch, especially for the heartfelt way the third video addresses the management of patient expectations in clinical trial settings.