Experimental Cancer Treatments and How They Work

 

   There are many different types of cancers and equally so, multiple types of treatments for each cancer depending on the type and stage of cancer when discovered. Experimental Cancer treatments are medical therapies that are attempting to treat cancer by improving or supplementing perhaps even replacing conventional methods.  These treatments are not necessarily available in all hospitals and are not necessarily recommended by physicians.

·   Anaerobic bacteria- such as Clostridium novyi which will consume the interior of oxygen-poor tumors.  This causes the oxygen-poor side of the tumor to die when it comes into contact with the oxygen-rich sides.  Which in turn renders the tumor harmless.  However, bacteria do not always consume all parts of the malignant tissue, so chemotherapy is also advised. The second use of anaerobic bacteria is to transform a non-toxic drug (Clostridium sporogenes) into a toxic drug.  The bacteria and the drug are introduced directly into the tumor where the bacteria transforms the non-toxic drug into a toxic drug to affect only the tumor.

Dichloroacetate is a chemical that has been able to shrink tumors in vitro rats.  This is still in a clinical trial stage.

·    Gene therapy treatment introduces tumor-suppressing genes into the cancer cells.  The second type of gene therapy is to introduce an adenovirus which will reproduce and destroy cancerous cells simultaneously. The third type of gene therapy is the introduction of enzymes into cancer cells which render them more susceptible to conventional drugs such as chemotherapy.

·   HAMLET(human alpha-lactalbumin) is a molecular structure found in human breast milk that kills tumors by causing them to initiate cell death by causing a biochemical event that causes the cells to change structure (such as DNA fragmenting, cell shrinkage or cell membrane loss) and die.

·   Hyperthermia therapy is an intense heat therapy, either localized or whole-body introduction.  Intense heat will cause cancer cells interior structures to lose their basic form and begin to fail.  The range of response can be anywhere from cell death to slowed cell division or increased susceptibility to radiation therapy.  The techniques used are focused ultrasound, microwave heating, induction heating, magnetic hyperthermia or direct application of heat via a saline solution.  Carbon nanotubes heated by lasers have also been used.  Gold-coated nanoshells and nanorods heated via light waves can also be used.

·   Photodynamic therapy is a non-invasive treatment using light and a photosensitive drug such as 5-ALA, Metvix, Tookad, Foscan, WST11 Hpotofrin, WST09, and Visudyne.  These drugs are triggered by specific light waves.

·  Quercetin is a vitamin component found in fruits, vegetables and other plants that have anti-tumor effects.  Skin cancer and prostate cancer cells have shown the most significant success when treated with a combination of quercetin and ultrasound.  The ultrasound causes an up to 1000 times higher absorption of the topical quercetin.  A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been shown to be effective in reducing cancer, quercetin is suspected to be the reason.  Research has shown that quercetin may reduce the risk of lung cancer.

·  Telomerase therapy acts upon the protein telomerase which most malignant cells need to survive.  Drugs that Inhibit or inactivate (GNR163L or GRNVAC1) the telomerase might cause the cancer to die while causing little or no effect on the rest of the bodies tissue since most other cells use or express very little if any telomerase.

   Experimental treatments are our future conventional treatments and need to be thought of in those terms.  Several studies have been done on the results of some of these innovative treatments and the latest reports only 11 to 34 percent of patients showed improvement or shrinkage of the tumors.  Additionally, there was an indication that the death rate from some of these treatments was approximately 14%.  Patients should Investigate any cancer treatment they are considering.  Patients should speak with several different doctors before deciding on treatments.  Patients should Keep in mind the doctor is a professional, but they should be involved in the decision-making process and are well informed of the procedure and the side-effects.

 

Sources:

Fox News  http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,149339,00.html

National Cancer Institute  http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/gene

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Kimbra Townsend