Thanks to our advanced and increasing technology, cancer treatments have been improving drastically. Every day gives the opportunity for a new breakthrough or discovery in medication and the way we take care of our patients.

Death rates from annual cancer reports have been decreasing, and hopefully, this trend will continue as new forms of treatment are discovered. Here are just a few notes on some of the latest breakthroughs in cancer treatment.

PD-1 Inhibitors
Programmed Cell Death Protein-1 (PD-1) inhibitors are drugs that stop cancer cells from taking over the PD-1 pathway. This is primarily used by healthy cells to tell your immune system’s T-cells to leave them be.

The first type of this drug to win approval from the FDA was Merck & Company’s Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo. The ability of these drugs to use the immune system to destroy cancer cells has lead to the improved treatment of many different cancer types.

PD-1 inhibitors have been able to delay progression and shrink tumors across a variety of cancers. This has snowballed the process of studies that have been evaluating them as a clinical-stage medication.

PARP Inhibitors
Any medication that targets polymerase (PARP) helps to keep cancer cells from repairing. PARP is an enzyme that helps to fix damage to your DNA. While this is usually a good thing, it can be bad for cancer patients that are trying to get rid of the bad cells.

AstraZeneca develops a PARP inhibitor called Lynparza to prevent PARP from repairing breaks in the DNA of cancer cells. When this drug is used as maintenance therapy, it has reduced progression by 70% in one trial alone. If this continues to be successful, it comes become one of the most commonly used drugs to treat cancer.

Gene Therapy
While the others may be new and exciting to the field of cancer breakthroughs, gene therapy may genuinely deliver the most significant impact on treatments within the next few years. Kymriah and Yescarta are two chimeric antigen T-cell receptor therapies that can re-engineer T-cells. This is done so that they can better destroy cancerous cells within the body.

Gene therapy works by removing a patient’s T-cells and manipulating a virus to insert genetic code. This allows them to bind to another antigen, CD19. These cells that are retrofitted are returned to the patient where they can then multiply and remove the patient’s cancer cells.