In a Perspective piece published in PNAS, cancer researchers from across the country write that a greater emphasis on immune-based prevention should be central to new efforts.
The authors say new research tools and other developments now make it possible to decipher in detail how different cancers begin, how benign or precancerous tissues turn malignant and deadly.
“Oncogenic transformation is a series of steps,” said Elizabeth M. Jaffee, MD, co-senior author, co-chair of the Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel and deputy director of the Kimmel Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“The body’s immune system is capable of intercepting pre-malignancies and preventing cancer. It does so countless times every day in all of us. That natural ability is what we want to leverage.”
“Building upon our innate defenses against cancer is the foundation of new immunotherapies, which have shown great promise in a very short time.”
But much more must be done, say the authors.
Efforts like The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which look for common genetic variants in different people to see if any variant is associated with a trait or, in this case, a cancer, have significantly advanced basic research in immune oncology and precision therapy.
Both should be dramatically expanded to cancer prevention, the authors write.
Continued and new development of cancer vaccines will be critical, said Lippman, noting that the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine provides almost 100 percent protection against strains linked to several types of cancer.
The authors cited several cancers that were particularly ripe for immediate prevention efforts, including Lynch syndrome, an inherited condition that increases the risk of many cancers, including of the digestive and gynecologic tracts; clonal hematopoiesis, an age-related precursor to leukemia; and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, abnormal growth of cervix tissue caused by HPV that can progress to cervical cancer.
“Prevention research has made strides, but progress has been anecdotal and isolated,” said Lippman.
“If the goal is eradication of cancer, we need a radically new focus, investment and approach to premalignant diseases and cancer prevention, one that is supported and sustained by broad, deep efforts like the Cancer Moonshot and Human Vaccines Project.”
Link Original: https://knowridge.com/2017/08/to-conquer-cancer-you-need-to-stop-it-before-it-becomes-cancer/