Different Methods Used in Developing Drugs for Cancer

cancer patient

Without a doubt, cancer is one of the most terrifying diseases to have. Despite the advances in medicine, the success rate for cancer therapies is still limited. Some tumors, after all, are particularly aggressive, being able to hide and resist treatment. The therapies can also result in excessive side effects, and in some cases, ineffective altogether.

As such, many cancer patients have resorted to natural remedies. And interestingly, those have shown promising results as well. Still, not all types of cancer can respond well to natural remedies, especially if surgery is required.

17 million new cases of cancer were reported as of 2018. In the same year, 9.6 million succumbed to the disease. Below, we’ll talk about the most common cancer types, and how the drugs for them are being developed.

Common Cancer Types and Causes of Cancer Deaths

According to Cancer Research UK, lung, female breast, bowel, and prostate cancers are the most common cancers occurring worldwide. Among children and teenagers, brain tumors are one of the prominent causes of cancer, as per an industry report by various pharmaceutical companies.

With regard to the top causes of cancer deaths, Cancer Research UK found that they are lung, liver, stomach, and bowel cancers. They have been causing the most deaths since 1975.

Drugs For Common Cancer Types

A long list of drugs has been approved for treating common cancer types; for lung cancer, these include Abraxane, Brigatinib, Docetaxel, and Paclitaxel. The drug combinations used to treat non-small cell lung cancer are Carboplatin-taxol and Gemcitabine-cisplatin.

For breast cancer, there are preventive drugs, namely Evista, Raloxifene Hydrochloride, Soltamox, and Tamoxifen Citrate. Approved drugs for treating the disease include Alpelisib, Docetaxel, Femara, and Letrozole.

For bowel cancer (a.k.a. colorectal or colon cancer), approved drugs include Cyramza Nivolumab, Xeloda, and Zirabev. And for prostate cancer, approved drugs include Erleada, Flutamide, Lynparza, and Olaparib.

man smelling a scent

Natural Cancer Remedies

Natural cancer remedies are alternative treatments patients can receive with or without medication. However, they aren’t generally powerful enough to treat cancer on their own. Popular natural remedies include:

  • Acupuncture: The insertion of tiny needles at precise points in the body, believed to be helpful in reducing nausea caused by chemotherapy.
  • Aromatherapy: The use of fragrant oils to induce a sense of calm that can relieve nausea, pain, and stress.
  • Exercise: Exercising may help manage symptoms during and after cancer treatment. It can also aid in better sleep, as it reduces stress and fatigue.
  • Hypnosis: Helpful for cancer patients experiencing stress and anxiety due to their condition and treatment.
  • Massage: Massage therapy helps manage pain, stress, anxiety, and fatigue caused by treatments.
  • Meditation: A practice that puts patients in a state of deep concentration. It helps reduce anxiety and stress.
  • Music therapy: Music-related activities that can relieve pain and nausea.
  • Relaxation techniques: Practices that train one’s attention, which helps relieve anxiety, fatigue, and sleep issues.
  • Tai Chi: A form of slow exercise that can relieve stress.
  • Yoga: Stretching and deep breathing exercises that improve sleep and reduce fatigue.

Natural remedies believe that the severity of cancer has a lot to do with the mindset. Since these remedies reduce stress, it puts patients in a more positive mindset, allowing their good energy to overpower the bad, ultimately leading to their healing.

How Cancer Drugs are Developed

Pharmaceutical companies take three main steps in finding and developing a new drug: preclinical research, clinical research, and post-clinical research.

For cancer drugs, in particular, drug development may result from accidental discoveries, testing plants and fungi, and studying the biology of cancer cells. One of the methods they use regarding cancer cells is cell proliferation and viability assay. Cell proliferation refers to an increase in the number of cells due to cell growth and cell division. In cell proliferation assay, the relative rates of cell division are quantified using specialized techniques to detect proliferating cells. Basically, it aims to destroy tumors without damaging the surrounding healthy tissues.

Breakthroughs in drug development result in significant increases in oncology drugs’ market revenues. In 2018, oncology drug sales reached $123.8 billion, which was more than double of diabetes treatment sales of the same year. The brain tumor market alone is foreseen to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 101% through 2023. These forecasts are attributed to the rise in the prevalence of cancer, the development of new oncology centers, and the pharmaceutical companies’ ability to increase the availability of cancer drugs.

While no one in the world wishes for anyone to have cancer, the best pharmaceutical companies could do is to keep developing drugs until a cure is found. If you want to participate in the industry, your company can contribute to research efforts and clinical trials. You can also develop your own drug if you’re in the pharma industry. The more companies take steps to cure cancer, the more likely we’d see its end.

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