Cancer is unbridled growth of abnormal cells in the body. It can occur in almost any organ or tissue, such as the breast, lungs, skin, colon, bones, or nerve tissue. Right now, doctors rely on treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells. There are also more focused methods of treatment that involve blocking the cancer-causing cells from developing and spreading, which have side effects like nausea and hair loss but don’t kill off normal cells.
According to medical researchers, we are closer to a cure for cancer today than we were 20 and 30 years ago. The goal is to find a pharmaceutical cure instead of chemotherapy and radiation because cancer cells develop resistance to them
Cancer is a very complicated disease, from its location to the structure of cancer cells. It’s also an evolving disease. Cancer cells are constantly undergoing molecular and genetic changes.
The main tendencies in cancer research in 2019 are related to immunotherapy and liquid biopsy tests. More clarity on precisely what the latter do and more proof that they do it accurately is expected in 2019. The liquid biopsy industry exploded last year, and the value of this market is expected to exceed $2 billion in 2022. Hopefully, we should be able to diagnose cancer with nothing more than a simple blood test—earlier, less costly, and more accurately than at present. Research has suggested these tests could even be used to monitor the response of tumors to cancer treatment and if or when a tumor comes back.
Immunotherapy seems to be everywhere, with a number of treatments approved for various cancer types, including immune checkpoint inhibitors, CAR T-cells, and more in development. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy helped cure a woman with metastatic breast cancer completely in a widely-reported research breakthrough last year. However, they have yet to be proven in larger-scale clinical trials.
Up to 3,000 trials using immunotherapy have taken place worldwide, but there are still major questions to be answered as the use of these treatments grows. One particularly significant one in terms of the use of immune checkpoint-blocking drugs is why some patients respond to this treatment, but others don’t. A number of research teams around the world are currently grappling with this question, and a clear answer isn’t likely to come soon, but we expect to read more research on this in 2019.