Target therapy drugs work differently than standard chemotherapy drugs which are used to treat any cell that is rapidly dividing. During traditional chemotherapy treatment, healthy cells are often killed. Targeted drugs work differently than standard chemo by targeting what makes the cancer cell divide or grow and often target a specific protein within the cell. Researchers have found that a specific type of cancer cell, such as a colon cancer cell, can differ from patient to patient. Through clinical trials and research over the last 5 years, these targeted therapy drugs are now available to treat many different genetically mutated genes and frequently have fewer side effects than standard chemo.
Targeted therapy comes in two forms:
- Monoclonal antibody drugs (biologics) – Man-made antibodies that are designed to target a specific function on a cancer cell or other type of cell
- Small-molecule drugs – these are not antibodies, but chemicals similar to other forms of chemo
Targeted drugs can also be grouped by what part of the cell they target. Some of the more common types are signal transduction inhibitors, angiogenesis inhibitors, apoptosis-inducing, and immunotherapies. For more information on target drugs, please visit:
Genetic research with the different types of cancer cells is ongoing. Many new target therapy drugs are in the development stages and, with the help of clinical trials, will soon be readily available. Targeted therapy can be used alone or with other treatment options such as chemotherapy or radiation.