Among the current research in oncology, therapeutic targeting represents a hope for more effective and less toxic treatment for cancer patients.
The anticancer therapies
At the moment, anti-cancer therapies often include a chemotherapy phase which uses cytotoxic drugs. These chemical or biological agents attack the cancerous cells and alter them to destruction. To that end, they can prevent cellular division or block a cell’s growth cycle.
These treatments therefore pose a significant toxicity risk to the body: by attacking cancer cells, they also affect healthy cells and disrupt the body’s defense mechanisms, such as the white blood cells responsible for fighting against infections. For patients and depending on their tolerance levels, chemotherapy may be associated with temporary but very disturbing side effects, such as hair loss or nausea and vomiting.
For over ten years, researchers have been working to develop new “targeted” therapies to provide physicians with more accurate and individualized therapeutic tools. That is to say, tools that take into account the differences in patients’ metabolism and the many types of cancers.
The advent of personalized medicine
The study of tumor formation, called oncogenesis and their classification, helped to highlight the multiplicity of cancers and therapeutic vectors to treat them.
The modeling of diseases and the “screening” of tumors, that is to say, the classification of their mechanisms of action and the study of molecules acting on these tumors, can limit the risks associated with drug intake. Many molecules are tested to determine the most efficient according to the genetic fingerprint of the tumor. It is called therapeutic targeting : each protein, receptor or molecule is assigned a specific treatment, selected from hundreds of applicants.
Diverse expertise for therapeutic targeting
It is often the identification of a protein associated with a human disease that starts the search for a drug candidate. This protein becomes a therapeutic target, on which researchers test many chemical compounds or antibodies to find one they bind to or attack. In the production of medicine, this initial step of identifying the target and its action is vital to develop a molecule capable of providing a therapeutic benefit.
The modification of a molecule to develop the desired action, can be particularly complex and requires the pooling of expertise and complementary skills, particularly in the fields of chemistry, biology, physiology, pharmacology and biotechnology. Therefore Servier partnered with many public or private partnerships for the development and commercialization of drug candidates targeting specific therapeutic targets in the field of oncology.
Oncology research remains one of the areas of basic research, designed to deliver innovative healthcare solutions that address the unmet needs of patients with severe conditions. Therapeutic targeting is now one of the most promising hopes in the fight against cancer.