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Cancer drug resistance: why advanced cancers recur and how to stop them

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Combination therapy quote from Bert VogelsteinIt is a fait accompli. Advanced cancers are destined to recur, and drug resistance to single agents is determined simply by how long it takes cancer cells with mutant genes to multiply. That's what a Johns Hopkins team of scientists announced last year when they published findings of experiments with targeted cancer therapies.

To overcome drug resistance and the eventual recurrence of cancer, Johns Hopkins' Bert Vogelstein and colleagues found that the best combination is to give two or more drugs together, not sequentially, as is often the tactic, but all at once. Vogelstein and colleagues from Harvard published recent findings in the journal eLife.

The idea, itself, is not new. I've listened to many scientist and clinicians debate the potential merits of multi-drug combination therapies. The new research is, in my opinion, an elegant demonstration of why we need to test it further. But, as Carl Zimmer points out in his article in the New York Times, the road to incorporating this strategy into more clinical trials and, hopefully, standard care, may be long and difficult. Let's hope we can defy the norm and give cancer the one-two punch it needs. Share this post if you agree.