As MD Anderson leads the effort to develop and offer truly personalized cancer medicine, I reflect on my own initial research in the field, beginning in 1980 working with Gordon Sato, Ph.D., at the University of California-San Diego. Our premise was that if we could block the activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor tyrosine kinase, we might be able to inhibit cancer cell growth.
Interrupting the signaling from a growth factor receptor and a cancer-causing oncogene was a novel idea then. Today it is the basis for much of personalizing cancer care: determining the genetic aberrations of each patient’s tumor and prescribing therapy that targets the gene products functioning abnormally in that individual’s tumor. Successful trials at MD Anderson and elsewhere already have demonstrated the efficacy of this approach. During the past 30 years, scientists have identified hundreds of targets, and there are more than 800 experimental drugs and biologics in the pipeline designed to attack them.
Soon I will be working with Gordon Mills, M.D., Ph.D., as we co-direct the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy.
We are confident that personalized cancer therapy will one day be standard practice for every patient. Until then, important and costly research must continue. I am grateful for the generosity of all who support our vision for the future of cancer care. Together, we are Making Cancer History®.