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Fight against cancer: treatments evolve

20 October 2019 - 14h02

Last Thursday the association Les Amis du CSM organized a conference highlighting the progress of treatments for the fight against this disease.

From radiotherapy to chemotherapy, through targeted therapies and derivatives of “natural” products. Nearly two hours were enough for the speakers to draw a historical picture of cancer. An affirmation in support: treatments are more and more effective.

Radiotherapy and targeted therapies …

For Dr. Gilles Pagès, there is no doubt, these therapies are effective: “60% of patients benefit from radiotherapy and out of 100 cancers cured, 40% are thanks to the combination of this treatment with other therapies“. The results have been hailed by the scientific community for years, but especially last year with the Nobel Prize 2018, which was awarded to two researchers, an American, James Allison, and a Japanese, Tasuku Honjo, “for their discovery of the cancer treatment by inhibiting negative immune regulation” or in other words, for therapy that “wakes up” and pushes the immune system to fight this pathology.

… but not only

Although Gilles Pagès asserts that the key word of current treatments is the combination of targeted therapies and immunotherapy, he also explains that some patients resist these treatments. But the hope lies in the fact that “today the cure rate for cancer is 50% compared with 30% just three years ago“.

Perspectives

Vincent Picco, in charge of research, notably spoke about pediatric cancers, for which the life expectancy has increased a lot although the current treatments are multimodal and “very heavy”, often implying important sequels. He also indicated that X-ray treatment is gradually being replaced by proton radiation therapy, which has less toxic effects. Finally, the engineer Jérôme Durivault exposed the CRISPR1 / Cas9 technology, a “pair of scissors” to cut DNA at a specific location in the genome, thus constituting a tool for rectification. A very promising technique but at least in some countries raises questions about ethical issues concerning DNA modification.

Daniela Guerra

©DG

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