Cancer spreads and reoccurs because of cancer stem cells.
According to the Mayo Clinic web site, stem cells are “the body’s master cells. All other cells arise from stem cells, including blood cells, nerve cells and others.”
Among the millions of cancer cells which form a cancer tumor, the stem cells are only 1-3% of them, but those stem cells are so resilient against chemo and radiation therapy and as long as even one stem cell survives in our body, they can reproduce new stem cells and other cancer cells.
However, the scientists have been researching a drug to beat these deadly stem cells. In 2006, Michigan University Cancer Center launched the first clinical trial in the world targeting breast cancer stem cells, and now the trial is in the phase lll. This doesn’t sound far away to reach.
The drug is called MK-0752, which was originally developed for Alzheimer’s disease, and in the trial this drug is given to the patients with Docetaxel, a conventional chemo drug.
In the phase l and ll trials the stem cells were significantly reduced. This is good news, but if even one stem cell can reproduce another stem cell or cancer cell, just reducing is not enough, I think. However, I see various clinical trials using this stem cell targeted drug not only for breast cancer but also for ovarian, pancreatic, and children’s brain cancer.
Since I didn’t have good experience with Docetaxel, I wonder if MK-0752 can be given with T-DM1, which is more effective and has less side effects.
A Japanese pharmaceutical company, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharama, also has launched a phase lll clinical trial this year with a colon cancer stem cell targeted drug in the U.S. as well as in Canada.
Although there is still a lot to be done to terminate cancer, the medicines are surely progressing and coming after cancer. May God help scientists to get the victory soon!