Cancer_Therapy - Shift in cancer therapy The promise of...

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Shift in cancer therapy: The promise of cancer molecular signatures. Introduction: Cancer is probably the biggest burden on the healthcare sector today and according to the World Health Organization, it is the main cause of mortality and morbidity across the
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globe. It is estimated that by 2020, the number of cancer case will cross the 20 million mark affecting more than 15 million people across the world (WHO, 2015). Thanks to the phenomenal progress in cancer research and high throughput sequencing technologies researchers today are getting a deep insight into the molecular mechanism of cancer progression and heralding a paradigm shift in the way cancer diagnosis and intervention is carried out. Molecular alterations at the level of DNA, RNA and microRNA are being identified in patients suffering from cancer and prospects are being created to use them as molecular signatures as an aid in the diagnosis and treatment of the conditions (Sethi, Ali, Philip & Sarkar, 2013). Current cancer treatment paradigms such as chemotherapy and radiation severely affect the healthy tissues and cells and cause manifestation of harmful side-effects. With targeted cancer therapy guided by molecular signature, only the cancer-affected cells in an organ can be targeted ensuring a much better treatment outcome and significantly less deleterious side effects ("news-medical", 2008). According to the current medical convention, the different types of cancer are defined or categorized by the organ or the location of the body where the condition is manifested such as breast cancer, kidney cancer or lung cancer. However it needs to be noted that an organ or a tissue is made of a wide range of cell types and it is possible that cancer affects only specific cells within an organ. So it will be more beneficial if cancer diagnosis and treatment is carried out according to the cells that are showing molecular alterations and not the organ in general. In a recent study, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco analyzed more than 3000 tumor samples from 12 different cancer types using state of the art high throughput sequencing techniques and observed that many of them do not fit into the
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standard organ specific definition. The study also led to the identification of new molecular signatures that can be used to define new classes of cancer (Hoadley et al., 2014). Molecular signatures for cancer diagnosis, characterization and treatment: A host of studies have already been successful in highlighting the efficacy of molecular signatures or alterations in facilitating diagnosis and treatment of malignancies at a very primitive stage (Ali et al., 2011);(Sethi et al., 2012). The characterization of cancer molecular signatures can also provide a very accurate assumption of the disease prognosis and treatment outcome and can even help in early differentiation of different types of tumors. The identification of molecular signatures specific to a tumor can also
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