Kevin Dalby, UT Austin professor at the College of Pharmacy, Department of Oncology, is a doctor who is an expert in cancer drug discovery. Dr. Dalby is also the co-director of the Texas Screening Alliance for Cancer Therapeutics and the principal investigator on a $2.3 million CPRIT grant, which gives Texas scientists access to resources for drug discovery research. He specifically studies how to develop targeted therapeutics through the mechanisms of cancer cell signaling. Dalby believes that by understanding cancer cell signaling, he can improve diagnoses and utilize technological advances to develop targeted pharmaceuticals for different cancers.
Below, Dr. Dalby discusses what target therapy is and the types of target cancer therapies today.
What is Target Therapy?
Target therapy is a treatment that targets cancer cells while not damaging the healthy cells. Physicians, clinicians, researchers, and scientists have discovered that when comparing cancer cells to normal cells, they have different genes and behaviors. The cancer cells have other proteins or enzymes and send distinct messages to the cancer cells to grow or multiply. Target drugs used in target cancer therapies identify and block signaling between cancer cells. They can signal to the cancer cells to do the opposite of multiplying, destroying themselves.
What Are the Targeted Cancer Therapies?
There are several types of targeted cancer therapies available for cancer treatment. These therapies include:
Apoptosis inducers defeat cancer cells’ strategies against apoptosis, a method the body uses to eliminate unnecessary or abnormal cells or control cell death. Apoptosis inducers force the cancer cells to fall fatal to apoptosis.
Angiogenesis inhibitors prevent tumor growth by blocking the development of new blood vessels. Blood supply provides oxygen and nutrients to a tumor, which allows it to grow bigger.
Gene expression modulators use proteins in controlling gene expression by altering their function.
Hormone therapies target hormone-sensitive tumors. Hormone-sensitive tumors need specific hormones to develop in size, and hormone therapies avert hormone production in the body to decrease the speed or stop the growth of these types of tumors.
Immunotherapies utilize the immune system to get rid of cancer cells. Specific immunotherapies are monoclonal antibodies that can identify particular molecules that cancer cells have on their surface.
Monoclonal antibodies that deliver toxic molecules target death to cancer cells by binding to them and infusing toxins that do not affect the larger majority of normal cells the body hosts.
Signal transduction inhibitors create a blockage against molecules that actively participate in signal transduction.
Target therapies are a cornerstone of precision medicine based on personalized patient health and genetic history. Many of them are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cancer treatments. Many others have been studied in clinical trials to be soon introduced to the public.
About Kevin Dalby
Kevin Dalby, UT Austin College of Pharmacy professor, researches cancer drug discovery to understanding cancer cell signaling and how it can create targeted therapeutics. Dr. Dalby’s other research areas include biochemistry, cancer, cell biology, chemical biology, drug discovery & diagnostics, and enzymology. Because of his interest in the “why” behind chemical reactions during his student years at the University of Cambridge, he graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Organic Chemistry, which led to his passion for learning cell signaling processes cancer research.