UBC Researcher Tames Drug-resistant Cancer

UBC Researcher Tames Drug-resistant Cancer


So cancer is the number one cause of death
in our society and we want to better understand how that happens, recognize it, and treat
it. But specifically, I’m interested in how cancers avoid our attempts to control it with
drugs: what causes resistance, how they evolve and adapt around our attempts to kill them,
and in doing so, it gives you real insights into the complexity of biology and of life.
How living organisms want to live even when conditions become harsh. So you’ve got this
huge spectrum of aggressiveness and potential lethality that we’re only now beginning to
better understand and segment so that individual cancers are better placed on a large spectrum
of aggressiveness so that your cancer fits here, your cancer fits there, your cancer
fits there. And as a result, we’re better able to individualize treatments. I think we’re a real tangible illustration
of investing in research and we’re only now harvesting the seeds that were planted several
decades ago in research. If you look at prostate cancer in 2004, we had really only hormone
therapy as a treatment that prolonged survival, and once you became resistant, overall survival
was about 16 months. Ten years later, we now have six new drugs that prolong survival and
overall survival is now more than 36 months. So we now have more tools in our toolbox.
People are living not just longer, but much better and more productive lives. We are getting
to the point where as we get more drugs available, we’re now combining them much more rationally
and creating incredible, durable responses that were otherwise unfathomable ten years
ago.

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