Pharmaceutical companies have been spending a lot of money on new cancer treatments, but the results have been less than stellar, says Robert Langreth on Forbes' Treatments blog. Pfizer, for example, has been spending a lot of money to develop a cancer drug that, in testing, helps only five percent of lung cancer patients with a particular tumor mutation. Langreth spoke to cancer geneticist Garth Anderson of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, who has a theory about that: he says targeted cancer treatment can't work because tumors are genomically unstable, producing more mutations than the treatments could possibly target. "They have so much genetic damage that it may be impossible to safely destroy them with drug that hit just one or two bad genes," Langreth says. Anderson adds that it would be better to spend money developing better tumor imaging techniques and less invasive surgical procedures.
A Waste of Time?
Aug 11, 2010