Category : Editorial

US scientists have brought some cheer to on otherwise gloomy period marked by the Columbia tragedy and president George Bush's continued threat of war. Newly formulated drugs ore beginning to redefine the hitherto dreaded disease, cancer transforming it from 'killer' to 'chronic'. The big C will soon take its place among other controllable chronic diseases 'like diabetes, and asthma. Cancer is caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a par) of the body, resulting In a malignant growth or tumour. Till recently, cancer was synonymous with pain and fatality- All that has changed now with medical breakthroughs signalling new and better ways of dealing with the disease. Chemotherapy and radiation - remedies which were often cited as being worse than the disease for the strong side-effects they induced — are today being complemented with other drug therapies designed to slow down the growth of the cancer and in some cases, even arrest its growth. "Target and control" is the new approach to cancer rather than the earlier 'find it, kill it' mode of operation. Another recently developed 'icon' molecule, which was found to force the cancerous cells to produce more cancer-fighting molecules, is bringing new hope even though it is still in the experimental stages.

Advances m cancer treatments have helped a great deal in getting rid of the stigma that was previously attached to the disease, the diagnosis of which was tantamount to delivering a death sentence. New drugs and treatments are making it possible for cancer patients to live longer and better lives. But equally, we also need to focus on prevention. Tobacco misuse, stress and other lifestyle factors are believed to trigger runaway cell division. Gene therapists are trying to understand the mutations that cause cancer. Since the subject of cancer- prevention is still little understood, more specific fact-finding in this area should be encouraged along with R & D m palliative treatment of the disease. An Indian scientist in the US has Identified a protein, CUGBP2 (cytidine uridine guanosine binding protein 2), that con destroy several types of cancer cells. When inserted into cancer cells cultured in the laboratory, the protein was found to cause more than 70 per cent of 'C' cells to self-destruct. This again is still in the experimental stages. Our approach to cancer combat should be to pay equal attention to prevention and cure, creating greater public awareness about lifestyle changes that con help prevent the occurrence of the disease in the first place.


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