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Improving Therapy

Some of the early approaches to cancer treatment focused mainly on the eradication of the cancerous cells by removal or obliteration. For example, surgery, radiation and cell-killing chemotherapy (aimed at tumors) are all strategies that have been used for many years. These methods still have a place in cancer medicine, but with an enhanced understanding of the mechanics of the disease, somewhat less-toxic therapeutic options are now possible. For example, the latest therapies target individual mechanisms within the hallmarks of in cancer framework are being aggressively pursued. Some of these therapies are aimed at specific receptors on the surface of cancer cells, while others target specific pathways inside of these cells.

In some instances, these therapies have been quite successful. Unfortunately, however, cancerous cells are prone to ongoing mutation (shown below). Recall that oxygen-deprived cells in the heart of the tumor generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and oxidative stress that can further damage DNA. Therefore most cancers are comprised of a variety of subpopulations of mutated cells.

Yet targeted therapies tend to only be effective on certain subpopulations of cells, because other subpopulations may be using alternate pathways to achieve the same hallmark characteristics and immortalized status. Consequently, relapses are still quite common after treatment with targeted therapy, even if the disease has been put into remission. So unless the immune system is able to arrest the unaffected subpopulations of immortalized cells (i.e., those that were unaffected) by the targeted therapy), the growth of immortalized cells will continue and the cancer will re-emerge. Indeed the tumors will eventually be comprised of greater numbers of the different subpopulations of immortalized cells, and since those subpopulations cells were not affected by the targeted therapy, the cancer will become fully resistant (non-responsive) to any further treatment by the original chemotherapy.

In some instances, combinations of two or three chemotherapy drugs have been attempted to address this problem. However the therapeutic index of many chemotherapy drugs is narrow (i.e. safety margins are slim), and therefore two to three drugs tend to be used in combination because too many of these drugs would quickly result in toxicity. Nonetheless, we believe that a “broad-spectrum” approach to cancer therapy is needed because many targets need to be acted on simultaneously. Accordingly, this section of our website is organized as follows:

Broad-spectrum Chemotherapy : Learn why the many natural food/plant-based compounds with anti-cancer potential may be the key to solving this problem. In many instances, these chemicals and compounds have been shown to act on the same receptors, pathways and mechanisms as the targeted therapies that are being sold commercially, but these chemicals/compounds tend to be better tolerated and much safer across a greater dose range when administered therapeutically. So we believe that they have much greater potential and promise for use with a much larger combination of other similar targeted therapies. With a much broader-spectrum of therapeutic action, the therapy should be more effective, and the possibility of relapse in any given cancer should be markedly reduced.

International Workshop : It is our intention to bring together a number of highly respected cancer researchers (those with expertise in the anti-cancer properties of plant-based compounds) and physicians/oncologists (those who have an interest in this sort of an approach to therapy) in the summer of 2013 to lay the conceptual groundwork for a substantial project that can move us towards a clinically relevant solution to this problem.

White Paper : This is an academic paper that lays out the technical arguments in support of this approach.

In sum, we believe that a “broad-spectrum” combination therapy that can simultaneously target many of the key anti-cancer receptors, pathways and mechanisms with little-to-no toxicity is desperately needed. So we plan to work with scientists, cancer charities, and progressively-minded national health agencies around the globe to inspire funding and instigate research that will illustrate the full potential of this approach.

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