A new cancer ecosystem

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Science  17 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6330, pp. 1103
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1295

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  • RE: Confusion at the cancer research frontiers. Does it reflect a paradigm shift?
    • Anders Bredberg, Senior consultant MD, Skåne University Hospital, Lund UniversityK

    What is the message of this Science issue's Special Section on Frontiers in Cancer Therapy?

    The editorial says: ‘basic scientific research ….to tame the disease’; so the message is to perform more molecular studies?

    The introduction says that the search is on for new molecules to target. But it also mentions non-precision approaches: simple changes to dose and timing of existing drugs, and that clinicians will experiment with combinations of drugs, ‘which history has shown can be more effective…’.
    Indeed, the major advance in cancer research during the last decades surely is the cure of childhood leukemia and testicular cancer patients; this was achieved by a tinkering with existing cytotoxic drugs, before the era of molecular targeting.

    The News article at first is confusing, when looking at the doctor-and-patient photograph over the heading ‘When less is more’; is the message that you actually can get more clinical information by hearing less of heart murmurs with the patient not un-dressed? Most probably not. Perhaps it is, as said in the end: ‘What the field needs most are more basic lab studies’.

    In conclusion, the message probably is to intensify the research focus on molecular targets.

    Is this the ideal message? Some readers may feel that the benefit of targeted cancer treatment has been relatively limited, and that the potential of molecular research to find the cure of cancer is often grossly overstated.


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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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