Researchers from Pfizer revealed extraordinary results from preliminary testing of the experimental drug Crizotinib for patients with advanced cases of a specific form of lung cancer. The drug works by targeting the genetic defects in cancer cells (a particular misalignment of the ALK gene). A stunning 90 percent of patients in a clinical study evidenced shrinkage in lung tumors within two months. While only 1 in 20 lung cancer patients have this particular gene, the fact that such dramatic results are being achieved by targeting specific genes is extremely encouraging. “We’re chipping away at large numbers of patients,” and future gene discoveries should add to the number helped.” Said Dr. Roy Herbst, lung cancer chief at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. “Once we understand a cancer cell, we can come up with a treatment very quickly.” Crizotinib has been fast-tracked into late-stage testing.
Meanwhile, a highly effective vaccine against breast cancer is showing tremendous results as it stimulates the immune system to destroy alpha-lactalbumin proteins that exist in over 70 percent of all breast tumors. In tests on rats, the vaccine was so successful in shrinking tumors that testing on women could begin as soon as next year. Researchers aspire to target other types of cancer by “teaching” immune systems to “recognize” and target specific proteins. Dr. Vincent Tuohy, an immune system expert at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said the effects could be “monumental”.
It should be noted that virtually all these tremendous medical advances are occurring in private-sector pharmaceutical companies across the world, not by government agencies.