Each year, there is approximately 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths due to cancer worldwide. As time goes on, this statistic decreases due to one thing: new technology. Scientists are continuously finding different solutions as a means to stop the spread of cancer. In 2016, there “Cancer Statistics.” National Cancer Institute, http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics were approximately 15.5 million cancer survivors in America alone. By 2026, it is estimated that it will increase to 20.3 million. However, which treatment will be the most efficient in saving the most lives?
One of the most personalized treatments is called CAR-T. CAR-T cells are created by first having the patient’s blood filtered through a machine. This machine then separates T-Cells and other white blood cells from the majority, and blends it with a disabled virus. In order to grow a crucial receptor to have everything run smoothly, the debilitated virus holds genetic instructions known as the Chimeric Antigen Receptor. This is where the acronym ‘CAR’ comes from. This genetically modified cell is then copied hundreds of times. Once in the bloodstream, the cells attach to the antigen CD19. This antigen is the most commonly expressed protein within the B lymphocyte (a small white blood cell found in the lymphatic system) lineage. To end this process, the CAR-T cells generate toxic chemicals that are then released into the cancer cells and trigger its death. They then go on to another cancer cell and repeat the process until no toxic cells are found in the system.
Being the first ones to launch CAR-T therapy, Novartis showed an 83% remission rate in clinical trials after three months. This was given to people whose bodies do not respond to regular treatments. Nonetheless, there was one detrimental side effect that impacted 49% of the patients. These patients’ bodies rejected the treatment, and were overcome with cytokine release syndrome, otherwise known as CRS. This side effect is caused by immune cells affected by the treatment firing cytokines into the blood in high speed. Signs and symptoms range from rapid heart beat to low blood pressure. Patients tend to have only mild reactions to CRS, but when concocted with CAR-T it is life threatening. With that said, this led to a number of deaths within Novartis competitors.
As an illustration, Juno Therapeutics was greatly intrigued by this new form of treatment. Their clinical institutes organized it, and soon after they had to discontinue their dominant CAR-T program due to five deaths caused by cerebral edema derived from the therapy.
The second scientific research company to utilize a CAR-T therapy and display it to the market was Gilead. More formally known as Gilead Sciences, this company conducts researches and discoveries within the biopharmaceutical field and is a member of both the NASDAQ Biotechnology index and S&P 500. Under their division of Gilead Sciences, Kite Pharma, they conduct specifically cancer related searches. Known as Yes Carta, Kite Pharma CAR-T cell therapy was used on a number of their patients. The percentage of remissions instigated was 72% of patients that hold a different form of blood cancer: B-cell non Hodgkin Lymphoma. However, with the good comes the bad. Due to the side effects of the therapy, three deaths were proclaimed.
A new example of cutting-edge technology is a process called ChemoID. Similar to the beginning process of CAR-T cell therapy, the doctor first extracts a sample from the patient’s tumor. Following this, tumor cells and cancer stem cells are grown by the sample. Doctors seek out which cells are killed the most efficiently by utilizing chemotherapy drugs. These trials are then repeated to guarantee the match, along with safety, for the patient. With this personalized treatment, this can help cure the patient’s cancer at an accelerated pace. Additionally, each year the average American spends $1,112 on prescription drugs. A beneficial factor to using ChemoID is that it assists patients and helps them save money. Instead, they use their money for something that is assured to aid their cancer.
All in all, the death count of cancer can be exceedingly decreased. The treatments above are just a sliver of the technology found to help find a cure. There can be more government funding towards the search for even more new cancer fighting technology instead of the government classifying by popularity. There needs to be more awareness about the effects of every variety of this disease. Hence, by passing legislation and promoting the universiality of cancer’s effects, The Cure will be part of the solution.