Yuval Shaked, Associate Prof. Dept of Molecular Pharmacology, The Ruth & Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, ISRAEL, talks to ETHealthworld about the latest researches in cancer treatment.
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What are the main focus areas of your ongoing research?
Our research focuses mainly on studying cancer treatment but the way we do it is basically not looking at how the treatment affect cancer cells but rather how they affect the host. We are interested to see how the treatments cause side effects to the host but not the regular side effects that we see like vomiting, hair loss or suppression but rather other silent side effects that can rather change the way the tumour cells behave.
Tell us about your findings so far?
We found that after giving the treatment the hosts react the way the tumour reacts so in terms of the tumour you can obviously see tumour cell death, anti tumour activity of the drug but when you look at the host definitely there are some activities.
When you talk about chemotherapy there are activities of a host cell but in addition to that you cause damage to the tumour and the cells and immediately there is a response from the host that generate factors and processes that may try to heel the damage that is caused. All types of treatment for cancer that cause damage to the tumour will trigger a reaction of the host to that treatment and will heal the tumour. So that would explain why tumour sometimes re-grow or become resistant of the tumours to the treatment.
What are the newer treatment modalities that have been identified as better options in treating cancer?
One way is where you give drugs which could be off-patent and very cheap drugs that can improve treatment efficacy and basically patient can have them for longer periods of time.
With other acute treatments these patients will actually not have the same side effects that you will see with patients that get other treatment modalities for cancer. So in addition to metronomic chemotherapy we actually identified some of these host effects. We now can identify drugs that are already in the market for other indications and repurpose or reposition into cancer drugs when you give them with conventional treatment.
How do you see the future of oncology?
In the last couple of years we have made a lot of breakthroughs in cancer treatments especially with immunomodulatory drugs. Metronomic chemotherapy for example is another way to show immunomudulation because these types of treatment promote immune cells against tumour cells. So I think in the near future we will see more and more progress not only in cancer research but also in cancer therapy. The future is bright for cancer and we now know much better than what we knew before and I think that cancer will not be a disease in the next 100 years.