Targeted Cancer Cell Therapy

The cells in the body grow and divide as part of the normal cell cycle. The cell’s nucleus control this process. Inside the nucleus, genetic materials called the DNA contains the instructions for directing the process. Sometimes, the cell’s DNA becomes damaged. Normally, the DNA responds by repairing itself or instructing the cell to die. In cancer, however, the parts of the cell’s DNA that directs cell division becomes damaged. Instead, the unrepaired DNA causes the cell to grow and divide uncontrollably into more damaged cells called “cancer cells”.

Targeted Therapy and Cancer

Targeted therapy attacks features common to cancer cells. The therapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer and prevents it from spreading. There are two types of targeted therapy: small molecule drugs which works inside the cancer cells and monoclonal antibodies which works outside of the cell. These two types work in four ways: (1) block signals that cancer cells use to make new cancer cells, (2) delivers toxic substances that kill or damage cancer cells, (3) stimulate cells in the immune system to destroy cancer cells, and (4) block the growth of new blood vessels around cancer cells which starves the cell from the nutrients it needs to grow.

Possible Side Effects

Though targeted therapy are thought to be “less toxic” than other treatments which uses drugs to treat cancer, this could still have significant side effects. Diarrhea or liver-related complications may also arise such as hepatitis and increased liver enzymes level. Other side effects may include: acneiform rash, skin drying, nail changes, hair depigmentation, problems associated with blood clotting and wound healing, high blood pressure, and in some rare cases, gastrointestinal perforation.

Although not every person develops a side effect upon treatment, the severity of the outcome may vary depending on the drug/s used and the condition of the particular patient. Most side effects disappear after the therapy or when the patient recovers from the treatment; it all depends on the overall health of the person during treatment.


Image by Enzymlogic / CC BY 2.0