There is a story the anticancer drugs used in cancer treatment originated from mustard gas, a biochemical weapon developed during the World War II.
An American pharmacologist, Alfred Gilman and Lewis S Goodman analyzed the deaths of Allied soldiers who died from the mustard gas leak, and found that some of the mustard gas derivatives had stopped cancer cells. After three years of experimentation, they succeeded in developing a drug for lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. This drug was the beginning of chemotherapy.
The first-generation chemotherapy had the effect of killing cancer cells, but it also caused significant side effects on normal cells.
As time has gone by, in the early 2000s, the targeted anti-cancer drug was developed and released on the market.
Targeted anticancer drugs (targeted therapies) rather than killing cancer cells directly, for example, it prevents proliferation by attacking and inhibiting certain areas of the signaling system within cancer cells.
Just as it described, it’s not a cure that completely eradicates cancer, it only prevents proliferation. Here are some of the most common drugs used for chronic myeloid leukemia, breast cancer, and lung cancer among targeted anticancer drugs that are mainly used for each type of cancer. The main treatments used in chronic myeloid leukemia are Gleevec and Tasigna, and Sprycel. Of these, Gleevec is the first targeted anti-cancer drug to be taken instead of an injection. Gleevec prevents the development of cancer by inhibiting abnormal protein activity. If the body becomes tolerant of Gleevec, Tasigna and Sprysel will be used.
|Type of Cancer||Targeted Drugs|
|Chronic myeloid leukemia||Gleevec, Tasigna, Sprycel|
|Breast cancer||Herceptin and Tykerb|
|non-small cell lung cancer||Tarceva and Iressa|
|Renal cell carcinoma||Nexavar(Sorafenib Tysylate), Sutent(Sunitinib Malate)|
|Pancreatic cancer||gemcitabine (Gemzar®)|
|Gastrointestinal stromal tumor(GIST)||Gleevec, Sutent(Sunitinib Malate)|
|Liver cancer||Nexavar(Sorafenib Tysylate)|
Next up is Herceptin and Tykerb, which are used in breast cancer.
Herceptin is a drug that only works when HER2 receptors are too high for breast cancer, when HER2 receptors are tested and comes back as positive, Herceptin will be administered. And Tykerb is known to be effective when HER2 receptors are positive with recurrence, metastatic breast cancer and used as an alternative drug with other anticancer drugs.
Finally, Tarceva and Iressa have been attracting attention recently as a treatment used in lung cancer. It is known to be highly effective in non-smokers, women, and adenocarcinoma patients, especially in patients with non-small cell lung cancer with mutations in the epithelial growth receptor.
After a month of starting the treatment of targeted anticancer drugs, the therapeutic effect, the risk of elements for interstitial lung disease, the patient’s systemic condition, preferences, etc. are evaluated in general, and then carefully determined whether the continuation of the drugs is required or not.