ALMOST half a century after Richard Nixon declared war on cancer, there has been plenty of progress. But there is still no cure. One reason is that “cancer” is an umbrella term that covers many different diseases. Although the fundamental mechanism is always the same—the uncontrolled proliferation of cells—the details vary enormously. Leukaemia is not the same as colon cancer. Even within a particular type of cancer, one patient’s disease will differ from another’s. Different mutations, for instance, will affect different genes within a tumour. The result is that cancer can be frustratingly difficult to treat.
Medicine, though, is getting better at accounting for these differences. In a paper just published in Nature Medicine, a team led by Meritxell Huch, a biologist at the Gurdon Institute, a cancer-research centre at the University of Cambridge, describes a technique that could, one day, help doctors design bespoke treatments for their patients,…Continue reading