What do we really know about what is going on inside cancer therapy, as cures get small in potential drug treatments of cancer. Nanotechnology and human genomic sequencing is the truly “big idea” for cancer research breakthroughs and innovation coming soon in this decade and the next.
Most importantly, medical science researchers will examine millions of potential scenarios and clinical tests through grand-challenge frontiers of quantitative and computational biology and chemistry — essentially involving the testing of drug therapy inside a computational test tube using high-performance computing.
This is remarkably taking place today along the “Miracle Mile of Mission Bay” at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.
UCSF, as the nation’s top medical science research enterprise, houses the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center’s shared resources, representing state-of-the-art support services and technology that provide critical support to groups of investigators, actively involved in cutting-edge cancer research, including nanotechnologies and genomic sequencing and drug therapy developments.
I have had the extraordinary opportunity to personally visit and tour these marvelous high-performance computational biology and chemistry facilities and laboratories, funded through joint government-university-industry partnerships, while serving as a 2012-13 American Council on Education Fellow at UCLA.
So, I now want to humbly say, as a part of LinkedIn’s Grand-Challenge campaign, “Let’s #FixIt,” by identifying cancer as a genome, specifically the 24,000 various genes that comprise the human genome, to most fully break it down to the smallest molecular cellular level to therapeutically affect the hundreds of genes that are causing the pathways to cancer.
“All cancers are caused by errors in the genome (mutations),” say Australian genomic sequencing experts. “There are approximately 24,000 coding genes in humans present within the 6 billion nucleotides making up human DNA (that is, 3 billion on each strand of DNA with two DNA strands). Cancer is due to errors in only a relatively small number of genes, that is, 150-250 genes, and these genes are associated with particular functions of the cell: cell proliferation or growth, regulation of cell functions, and what happens to the cell.”
Nanotechnology in cancer treatment, which rests on the Nobel Laureates James Watson and Francis Crick double-helix sugar phosphate base pairs (guanine–cytosine and adenine–thymine) that allows the human DNA helix to maintain a regular helical structure that is subtly dependent on its nucleotide sequence, is shaping to be the future of how medical science addresses terminal illness and of where human health is heading, as cures get small.
Such extremely small molecular nanobots promise relief without the side effects in diseased tissue treatment, including cancer, perhaps within this decade and the next. The regular base pair structure and data redundancy (in the guanine–cytosine and adenine–thymine), provided by one’s human DNA double helix, make DNA, particularly advantageous for the storage of genetic information in identifying and researching cancer as a genome.
In contrast, gene therapy in cancer treatment, as a critical cancer research question, has existed for decades. The Mayo Clinic defines gene therapy as “replacing a faulty gene or adding a new gene in an attempt to cure disease or improve your body’s ability to fight disease.” Gene therapy has the potential of treating a full range of diseases, including cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, diabetes, hemophilia, and HIV treatments, retarding the causes of AIDS.
On January 5, 2014, South Korean scientists say they have developed the world’s first nanobot that can selectively target and help treat cancer. These molecular cellular robots are guided through the body by genetically-engineered bacteria to a tumor. Whereupon arrival and attachment to the tumor, these nanobots release their cargo of cancer fighting drugs to shrink the tumor and potentially kill and eradicate it, as an unwanted human genomic cell. Sharon Reich reports inside this video for Reuters.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Gene therapy is a treatment that involves altering the genes inside your body’s cells to stop disease.
Gene therapy stretches into the grand-challenge areas of genetics engineering and biotechnology and quantitative and computational biology. Gene Therapy additionally expands the frontiers of our knowledge of the human genome and your DNA — the code that controls much of your body’s form and function, from making you grow taller to regulating your body’s heart-lung circulatory, digestive, and cognitive systems.
Unfortunately, sometimes an extremely few of our 150-250 genes can malfunction leading to diseases, like cancer.
As shown below, the blue helical bands form the two sugar-phosphate chains of our genes. Pairs of bases (guanine–cytosine and adenine–thymine) can sometimes snap and malfunction, as crucial pairs working together in partnership, running as opposite chains in opposite directions. These running pairs between the sugar-phosphrate helical backbone are essentially the mechanics of our 24,000 healthy well-functioning genes. Such genes are simply just phosphorous, sugar-phosphates, hydrogen, and oxygen, as Watson-Crick so remarkably fundamentally identified in their Nobel Prize winning work for us.
For decades. since Nobel Laureates James Watson (shown left in the photo insert above) and Francis Crick (shown right) discovered their model of human DNA (charted above), from which genomic researchers later mapped out the 24,000 genes, comprising the human genome, researchers have been attempting to uncover why, how and when to use gene therapy. Currently, in the United States, gene therapy in cancer treatment is available only as part of a clinical trial, according to the Mayo Clinic:
In some cases, your immune system doesn’t attack diseased cells, because it doesn’t recognize them as intruders. Doctors could use gene therapy to train your immune system to recognize the cells that are a threat.” — Mayo Clinic Staff
Gene therapy has drawbacks and potential risks. This is because a gene can not simply be inserted directly into our cells. Such a delivery has to employ a carrier, known as a vector. The most common gene therapy vectors are viruses, says the Mayo Clinic, because they can attack diseased tissues and cells and carry genetic material into the cells’ genes.
Essentially, gene therapy researchers are examining ways to remove the original disease-causing genes from the viruses, replacing them with the genes needed to stop disease.
Your body’s immune system may see the newly introduced viruses as intruders and attack them. This may cause inflammation and, in severe cases, organ failure.” — Mayo Clinic Staff
The gene therapy clinical trials under way in the United States are closely monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. National Institutes of Health to ensure the safety of patients who participate in such gene therapy clinical trials.
Clinical trials of gene therapy in cancer patients have shown some success in treating patient presentations of acute combined immune deficiencies, oftentimes associated with some forms of cancer, such as the various stages of melanoma.
However, significant barriers stand in the way of gene therapy becoming a reliable form of treatment, Mayo Clinic experts believe, which involve “finding a reliable way to get genetic material into cells, reducing the risk of side effects, and targeting the correct 150-250 cells.”
In consideration of the opposite side of the gene therapy debate on the treatment of cancer, here’s an interesting clip from an episode of Sally Jessy Raphael’s TV talk show, featuring a long-time advocate of gene therapy, Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, four cancer patients, and one member of the opposition to the promise of gene therapy for cancer patients, which aired decades ago on February 23, 1988.
More recently on May 17, 2011, Oprah Radio host Dr. Oz talks with Eric Merola, director of the documentary Burzynski, the Movie, and Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski about the latter’s groundbreaking gene-targeted cancer medicines, called antineoplastons, and his battle against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Listen Here.
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