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To Fight the Disease

A confluence of an increased number of cancer cases, rising prices for treatments, and new technologies, including sequencing, is leading to more sophisticated cancer therapies entering the market, The Economist writes.

Tailored drugs, it adds, began with Gleevec, but recent studies are showing that most cancers aren't driven by single mutations. Additionally, mutations that may be key changes in one cancer type may be secondary changes in other types of tumors, and that new mutations can crop up, suggesting that multiple drugs may be needed to treat cancer.

At the same time, The Economist notes that interest in immunotherapies has also been piqued, beginning with ipilimumab, to get the immune system to help in the fight.

Further, Bristol-Myers Squibb has tried to combine the two approaches, trying ipilimumab in conjunction with the targeted melanoma drug vemurafenib from Roche. While it though halted the trial due to indications of liver toxicity, "that does not mean the general idea is unsound," The Economist adds.