New Discoveries in Breast Cancer Research

New Discoveries in Breast Cancer Research

09.25.12 | By

I'll be honest, I rarely watch the evening news. I find it all just too depressing. Actually, now that I think about it, no matter what medium I get my news, it can be awfully depressing. Rarely do I see or hear about positive developments in the U.S. or around the world.

That is why I was encouraged when I read an article last weekend by Gina Kolata at the New York Times focusing on advancements made in breast cancer research that are leading to a better understanding of hallmark genetic changes that could be driving this disease.

Gina often writes about medical progress and its positive impact on patient care - coverage that is becoming a rarity now a days, particularly as news rooms shrink and editors desperately search for their next big celebrity scandal fix.

But rather than focus on my issues with modern-day news coverage, I will focus my energy on something positive like the fact that personalized medicines, and the research that leads to the development of such cutting-edge medicines, are reshaping the health care landscape and improving the way patients receive care.

If you didn't know, personalized medicines use an individual's genetic information to help guide diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

Targeted personalized medicines, such as those for many different types of cancers, including breast cancer, offer precision and transformative results for patients. As Gina pointed out in her article, the new breast cancer discoveries "are expected to lead to new treatments with drugs already approved for cancers in other parts of the body and new ideas for more precise treatments aimed at genetic aberrations that now have no known treatment."

This is a pretty big deal. As one of the lead researchers of the study notes, "This is a road map for how we might cure breast cancer in the future."

Over the last decade, there has been growing interest in personalized medicines. Scientists in academia, federal research institutions and biopharmaceutical companies are all tremendously excited about the potential these medicines offer to different patient populations.

As more and more biopharmaceutical companies enter this field, the scientific potential for making real progress against disease grows. Interestingly enough, a study by Tufts found that 94 percent of biopharmaceutical companies are now investing in personalized medicine research and over the last five years, they have increased their investments in these medicines by roughly 75 percent. Companies also report that within their development pipelines, 12 to 50 percent of compounds are personalized medicines.

The good news is that there are currently 111 medicines in development for breast cancer, many of which are personalized medicines. These potential new medicines - and the new research discoveries such as those highlighted in the New York Times - offer hope to the millions of women in the U.S. battling cancer and represent one more step in the journey to ridding our world of this disease.

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