Drug combinations may be a patient’s best bet
“If we come in with just one drug, the cancer can mutate around it or become resistant,” Dr. Chinnaiyan says. “But we’re finding that using a cocktail of drugs—similar to the treatment HIV-infected patients receive—can be more effective.” Learn the truth behind 29 things you think cause cancer, even though they don’t.
Viruses are among our most secret weapons
“When we put a virus into a tumor, it makes cancer cells think they’re infected, so they commit suicide or display new antigens that signal your immune system to come in for the kill,” says Peter Jones, PhD, chief scientific officer of Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The FDA recently approved a genetically engineered form of the herpes virus to treat melanoma. And at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, scientists are fighting brain cancer by injecting tumors with a genetically modified polio virus. Now Jones and his colleagues are working on a solution for tumors that can’t easily be injected: epigenetics, a process that wakes up ancient viruses that are embedded in our human DNA. “We are making tumors visible [to your immune system] by turning on the viruses that are already there,” Jones says. Early research indicates that combining epigenetics with immunotherapy drugs may be particularly effective.
Coming soon (we hope): a Pap smear that can detect ovarian cancer
“We have developed a test that can find genetic markers of ovarian and endometrial cancers in the cervical fluid collected during a routine Pap test,” says Dr. Nelson. The research is in its early stages, but it’s an exciting development because ovarian cancer kills more than 14,000 women a year, often because it’s diagnosed too late. Until then, these are 30 simple ways you can prevent cancer.