Our long-time production director, R., died from Glioblastoma — a particular nasty and deadly form of cancer. R was with us almost 30 years. His former career was primarily as a newspaper accountant up in Pennsylvania.
Then, as he began to approach retirement with us, cancer took him.
When he received his diagnosis, we offered to send R. and his entire extended family to Disney World for a long weekend, at a nice Disney hotel with hotel, tickets and food at company expense.
We wanted to say thank you to our colleague and friend and to allow him special time with his family. He loved Disney. More exactly, he loved going to Disney with his wife and granddaughter.
R. said, “Not now. I’ll go when I get better.” He never got better.
Maybe there is hope on the horizon. Significant breakthroughs are now being made using cutting edge computers and software. Just as messenger RNA created the breakthrough COVID-19 vaccines in record time, similar technology is set to revolutionize cancer care.
The cancer that killed my friend R. may now have a new treatment. University of Edinburgh scientists created and successfully tested a process to treat glioblastoma. Because glioblastoma is a form of brain cancer, almost all of the existing treatments, such as surgery to remove the cancer or chemotherapy or radiation, create potentially terrible side effects.
What makes this new therapy so unusual is it can kill the cancer without damaging healthy tissue next to the cancer. Because cancer is hungry and always needing food, the researchers created a Trojan horse chemical food.
Inside the nanoparticles, hidden from the cancer, is a load of cancer-killing agents. The nanoparticle has markers designed to make hungry cancer cells ingest them. Then, the hidden cancer-killing agents inside the nanoparticles spring forth to kill the cancer cells.
The concept of sending instructional messages to our body, the basic science behind the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, is now in play with ovarian and breast cancer.
Our body’s cells and DNA strands get damaged quite frequently. Our incredible body somehow knows which cells and DNA are damaged and sends rescue proteins to help fix and repair the damage.
Unfortunately, this magical rescue and repair system also repairs cancer cells. Scientists have developed specific protein inhibitors to instruct the body to keep repairing normal cells but stop repairing cancer cells. The FDA has already approved this new technology to treat pancreatic cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer is about 80% of all lung cancers with those in the advanced or mestastic state. About 14% of those lung cancers are related to the KRAS G12C protein.
This KRAS protein basically tells the cancer the reproductive switch is on and to reproduce at wide-open rates. Because that protein replenishes itself every two days or less, cancer related to the KRAS protein is particularly hard to treat. It’s been called an “undruggable cancer” by some.
A new drug under review by the FDA sends instructions to the human body so that the growth of this protein is inhibited and the cancer growth signal stays in the off position.
I don’t have a Ph.D. in cancer research, so my apologies ahead of time to those who do and might quibble with my descriptions. The center of my argument is valid.
We are in a golden age of medicine. We have figured out how to send our own bodies instructions on what steps our bodies can take to fight off not only COVID-19, but other illnesses like cancer.
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