July 10 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Health & Medicine Year: General Rating: 13 Hot
By Dick Pelletier
Former National Cancer Institute Director Andrew von Eschenbach claims that “By 2015, nobody will die of cancer; it may not be cured at that time,” he says, “but innovative new therapies will make the disease manageable and finally bring an end to the pain, suffering, and death that cancer now dishes out.”
In support of von Eschenbach’s claim, 92 US Senators and 275 members of the House signed a “2015 goal letter” that describes how suffering and death from cancer can be eliminated on such an aggressive schedule.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in the US for people under age 85, experts say. One in two men and one in three women will get cancer in their lifetime, and more than 1,500 Americans die every day from this horrific disease; and these statistics have changed very little since America first declared war on cancer in 1950.
So, if in 58 years we have made such little headway in fighting this disease, how can Eschenbach claim we will eliminate cancer deaths in seven years? The answer lies in what some refer to as the “nanotech revolution.” Scientists working with this new technology are creating an impressive array of new cancer therapies and drugs.
The nanotech approach to fighting cancer can be divided into two parts; detection and therapeutic.
Detection systems identify cancer cells before they become dangerous, and if cancer is in remission, predict if it might flare up again; these include:
Quantum Dots – dramatically improves today’s early detection tests. These tiny particles glow and act as markers on cells and genes, enabling doctors to visualize cancer when present or impending. Widespread availability expected within five years. (cont.)
Nanowires – discover prostate and other cancers before conventional tests can. These marvels could one day be implanted as permanent health detectives, monitoring cells 24/7. They could become available in five years.
Lab-on-a-Chip – promises early detection of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other sicknesses. Patients will one day walk into their doctor’s office with this hand-held device, give a few drops of blood, and in minutes, receive a complete health diagnosis. Widespread use expected by early 2010s.
Therapeutic systems non-invasively destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells; these include:
Carbon Nanotubes and Gold Nanoshells – selectively deliver lethal drugs to cancer cells that explode when exposed to light and heat. Trials are underway now.
Dendrimers – bind only to cancer cells; they fluoresce upon locating genetic mutations; carry drugs released on demand; then signal when cancer cells die. Animal tests are underway now and human trials could begin soon.
Fullerines – deliver radioactive and other toxic drugs to cancer cells, and then leave the body when treatment complete. This product could become available for widespread patient use by as early as 2015 or before.
Nanocomplex – detects and destroys metastatic cancer cells. Its diagnostic and therapeutic functions utilize a microscopic, lipid-based liposome and an antibody, along with gene therapy; clinical studies expected soon.
Can we realistically expect to end cancer deaths in seven years? Economists predict nanotech products will reach $1 trillion by 2015. Driven by this financial push, forward-thinkers believe Americans will soon be enjoying a cancer-free “magical future.”