Humans have been fighting cancer for centuries. And hard too. Yet the aggressive disease kills more than 8 million people every year. In our series of articles on the fight against cancer, we discuss the most important 'battles'. You read how scientists worldwide tackle the disease with antibodies, gene technology and artificial tumors.
Scientists are battling cancer.
Breast cancer alone has 11 variants, which can also be subdivided into different categories. No two patients have exactly the same type of tumor, and therefore they respond differently to various therapies.
This wide variation has arisen because cancer can occur in different cell types - for example in the breast in the mammary glands or connective tissue.
Furthermore, cancer cells mutate so quickly that they acquire unique properties.
Due to the differences between the tumors, a therapy that works very well in one patient cannot have any effect in another.
Test determines therapy
The researchers color samples of the patient's tumor with antibodies or sequence the DNA.
The colored antibodies only attach to certain proteins on the cancer cell.
The sequencing reveals mutations in the genes of the cell.
The analysis provides insight into the properties of the tumor and thus helps the doctors to choose the right therapy.
The method is already being used, but the researchers are getting better at categorizing the tumors, and new drugs are therefore specifically tailored to cancer types.
The researchers have colored the HER2 protein on the surface of cancer cells.© Shutterstock
Cancer cells with the protein ER grow quickly, but when ER is blocked with the drug tamoxifen stopping growth.
The HER2 protein makes cancer cells extremely aggressive, though trastuzumab blocks HER2. Then the substance switches on the defense.
Cancer cells without ER and HER2 but with a mutation in the BRCA1 / 2 gene are killed by so-called taxan substances.
A taxan dust with **platinum-containing ** element works best against cells that have no ER, HER2 or mutation in BRCA1 / 2.