Targeted therapies are cancer treatments designed to only target cancerous cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed. Targeted therapies are also known as precision medicine and are used to block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with molecular targets including gene mutations, mRNA levels, protein levels, and enzyme activities.
Types of targeted therapies include:
- Antiangiogenic drugs which block the formation of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells to stop them from growing.
- Monoclonal antibodies deliver toxic molecules that bind to the targeted cells, ultimately killing the targeted cancer cell. The toxin does not affect cells that lack the target for the antibody.
- Signal transduction inhibitors are the most common targeted therapies. They block signals that tell cells to divide too much and too fast. In some cancers, the malignant cells are stimulated to divide continuously without being prompted to do so by external growth factors. Signal transduction inhibitors interfere with this inappropriate signaling.
- Cancer vaccines and gene therapies interfere with the growth of specific cancer cells. Vaccines help by strengthening the immune system against cancer, they are designed to be given cancer patients to work against cancer cells versus prevention. Treatment vaccines help to destroy cancer cells.