Cancer predominantly is an abnormal division of cells akin to a chain reaction. It is a result of the alteration of genes that regulate cell growth and differentiation. According to its general definition, cancer might not appear as a life-threatening ailment, but in reality it depicts a much worse scenario. Today, the leading cause for natural death is cancer. Based on a 2012-2014 survey, 38.5 % of men and women were diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Moreover, cancer is a disease which can occur to anyone at any time and is independent of one’s physical characteristics.
Scientists at Rice University have proposed an explosive cancer therapy to kill individual cells more efficiently, in the process creating nanobubbles. The nanobubbles are created with near-infrared laser pulses that zap colloidal gold nanoparticles inside the body and leave a hole inside the cell when burst. At that point, antibodies and cancer killing drugs are injected into the cell’s nucleus through the hole.
Over the recent decades, scientists have come up with numerous ways to overcome this lethal disease but have not been completely successful. Chemotherapy is one such way, which aims to prolong life or reduce the symptoms but has failed to completely eradicate cancer, especially when it is in its last stages. In this, chemotherapeutic drugs impair mitosis, by damaging DNA and by inhibiting the cellular machinery involved in cell division, thus, slowing down the fast division of cells. As a result of this, chemotherapy is more efficient against leukemia which involves a high growth rate as compared to brain tumours and non-melanoma skin cancers which are accustomed to slow growth rates.
Immunotherapy (biologic therapy) is another remedy for cancer which boasts the body’s natural defense when provided with internal or external made substances. Monoclonal antibodies are an example of this, in which these antibodies attach to specific proteins on cancer cells. This flags the cells so the immune system can find and destroy them. Furthermore, these antibodies, which work as inhibitors, block the immune checkpoints also known as pathways, therefore, not allowing the cancer to escape. In this way, immune systems can find and respond to the cancer.
Hormone therapy specifically for breast cancer, inhibits the growth of hormone receptor-positive tumours, by preventing the cancer cells from getting estrogen which they need for augmentation. In this way, hormonal drugs such as tamoxifen, attaches to the receptor in the cancer cell and blocks estrogen from binding with the receptor. Other hormonal therapies, like aromatase inhibitors, lower the level of estrogen in the body so that the cancer does not get the desired amount of estrogen it needs for growth.
Not to forget, if the dosage of these therapies are not monitored properly, they can lead to severe side effects such as anemia, diarrhea, delirium, constipation, hair loss and fertility problems.
All in all, it would be fair enough to say that cancer is the most devastating disease human race has ever came across. Right now, it may seem impossible to completely cure cancer but with the advent of nanotechnology and the pace we are advancing, this cure is likely to soon become a reality.