The main goal of any cancer therapy is to remove the tumor as completely as possible. A wide range of new options is now available for this purpose. In addition to the classic forms of treatment, numerous innovative therapies have been developed, especially in recent years.
This innovation made a significant impact on the cancer treatment landscape in Germany.
Unveiling the Innovation
Cancer is still one of the most relevant health issues worldwide. According to estimates by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the estimated number of cancer cases can rise up to over 30 million worldwide by 2040.
The last 40 years saw significant advances in research into diagnosis, treatment, and improving the quality of life of cancer patients. The innovations in the field of personalized medicine and advances in the field of medical technology are particularly noteworthy.
New procedures in diagnostics and therapy have contributed to the fact that cancer mortality in Germany has fallen considerably in recent years.
These innovations show that cancer research has made and will continue to make significant advances. As in many other areas, the enormous potential and importance of the life sciences industry for German society is also evident here.
New procedures and approaches aim to enable better results in diagnosis and treatment and to increase the quality of life of those affected. It’s also possible that different therapy methods can be combined in order to include the different starting points in the treatment. New innovations and technologies in other areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are also helping to accelerate and improve pharmaceutical research.
A Paradigm Shift in Patient Care
In order to be able to put new treatment methods into practice, the German healthcare system works tirelessly to strengthen institutions and promote innovative projects. The focus of this work is on clinical research projects and research work in the field of systems medicine. The main goal is to understand how tumors form in order to treat them even better and more individually. One fundamental concept is particularly in focus: personalized medicine.
For a long time, the affected organ played the most important role in the choice of treatment. There was one type of treatment for patients with breast cancer, for example, and another for those suffering from lung cancer. However, it has been shown that people with what appears to be the same cancer diagnosis often respond differently to one and the same therapy.
In the meantime, with more and more types of cancer, it’s the unique molecular changes in the tumor tissue of each individual patient that can be analyzed and specifically treated. The assumption that all breast cancer patients benefit from the same therapy, for example, has given way to the realization that there are different subgroups of the disease that require different treatment.
By personalizing the treatment of different diseases, doctors can increase efficiency and at the same time reduce the side effects of medication. As the name suggests, personalized medicine focuses on the individual needs of each patient. In the treatment of cancer, the focus is on the type and stage, among other things. Not least thanks to these possibilities, various new approaches and innovations have emerged in the context of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
The Role of Technology and Collaboration
Cancer treatment tailored to the individual needs of patients based on genetic information and powerful algorithms is no longer a utopia. With the interlocking of the latest diagnostics, high-precision medicines, and intelligent information technologies, the foundations for tomorrow’s precision medicine are being laid today.
The industry is experiencing a surge in innovation. Groundbreaking strides in cell therapy and cutting-edge developments in diagnostic tools are propelling advancements in the battle against cancer.
Many of the technologies involving AI data analysis and liquid biopsy help detect cancer at earlier stages which significantly reduces mortality rates. Innovations in laparoscopic imaging give surgeons a chance to see parts of the human body in HD. This means higher diagnosis accuracy rates and more efficient treatment.
Treating cancer patients requires collaboration among various experts, including radiologists, oncologists, surgeons, nurses, pharmacy and med tech companies. Effective training for German healthcare specialists in utilizing advanced technologies is instrumental in reaching this goal.
Comparisons and Advantages
Around half a million people are diagnosed with cancer every year in Germany alone. Cancer is a disease with a thousand facets, as unique as each person’s genes. The good news is the knowledge that every tumor has an individual genetic profile is increasingly being translated into therapies that are highly precisely tailored to the individual disease of the patient.
1. High-precision Biopsy Thanks to Laser Microdissection
The technique is mainly used in pathology, since with laser microdissection, the mutated cells are isolated even more successfully from the healthy tissue with the help of a very thin laser beam, after which molecular genetic studies can be carried out. These isolated cells now provide much more precise information about possible genetic changes.
The type of tumor and the course of the disease usually differs significantly from one person to another. Thanks to the new technology and the resulting more accurate biopsy, personalized methods can be better applied, which leads to better results.
A completely different approach is taken by the latest development in the field of cancer therapy. The body’s own immune system has the task of freeing our organism from invading pathogens and degenerated cells keeping it healthy. However, certain structures must be present so that the immune system recognizes them as a threat and can take action against it. Tumor cells use a wide variety of mechanisms to protect themselves from attacks by the immune system. These include camouflage, the release of immunosuppressive substances or the inhibition of so-called checkpoint molecules responsible for controlling immune reactions.
Today, there are drugs that can be used to reverse the inhibition of control signals induced by tumor cells. Ultimately, the suppression of the immune system is lifted, its activity boosted and a balance created between the body’s own defenses and tumor growth.
2. Individual Cancer Therapies Using mRNA Vaccines
Now that mRNA vaccines have been used worldwide to combat Covid-19, scientists are working on expanding them to include a further area of application. The original goal for mRNA research was advances in cancer therapy.
Oncologists developed different individually targeted vaccines against cancer helping in advanced and hopels cases.
3. Radiopharmaceuticals for Cancer Care
There are several targeted options developed for metastatic cancer. Those include Lutetium 177 PSMA therapy for advanced prostate cancer. The therapy use a tiny radioactve particles binding to the cancer cell regardless to the location.
4. Hybrid Imaging
Hybrid imaging involves combining computed tomography (CT) or MRI with positron emission therapy (PET). The high sensitivity of PET is paired with the anatomical details of MRI or CT, so that even very small tumors in the body can be visualized and localized.
5. Molecular Pathology
Molecular pathology is able to record changes in the tumor that can be traced back to individual mutations in its genetic material. They can be used to identify the patients who are most likely to respond well to a specific targeted drug. Molecular pathological methods are also increasingly used in immunotherapies with checkpoint inhibitors to predict the response to therapy. Studies are currently providing evidence that mutational load is a biomarker to predict response to immunotherapy. It can be detected using a special Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) method.
Countless studies are currently underway. They serve to constantly research new mechanisms of action and the development of innovative methods of treatment. Therefore, we should expect a rapid expansion of the range of therapies.
1. Dejene Tolossa Debela, Seke GY Muzazu, Kidist Digamo Heraro, Maureen Tayamika Ndalama, Betelhiem Woldemedhin Mesele, Dagimawi Chilot Haile, Sophia Khalayi Kitui, and Tsegahun Manyazewal. New approaches and procedures for cancer treatment: Current perspectives. Published August 12, 2021.
2. Ann Hoeben,Elbert A. J. Joosten, and Marieke H. J. van den Beuken-van Everdingen. Personalized Medicine: Recent Progress in Cancer Therapy. Published January 11, 2021.
3. Natalia Volvak. Proton Therapy: New Approach to Cancer Treatment. Updated on April 15, 2023. https://airomedical.com/blogs/articles/proton-therapy-new-approach-to-cancer-treatment
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