Chemotherapy (also called Chemo) is a type of cancer treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells, which grow and divide quickly. However, recently some cancer experts in the UK have predicted that in the next 20 years, more effective cancer treatments will come and replace chemotherapy, thanks to advanced medical science.
A team of researchers at Genomics England is running a four year project. This project is owned by the UK Department of Health. The project will find the genes responsible for this complex disease. On the other side, the project will also try to discover more effective cancer treatments.
Around 75,000 volunteers from London, Cambridge, and Newcastle with cancer and rare diseases will offer up their genetic material for sequencing over the next few years. Both their healthy and cancer-affected cells will have their DNA mapped as part of the project, and their close relatives will also have their genomes sequenced for comparison.
The first genome was sequenced on May 30 of this year, and now, the team has passed the 100 genome mark. Now, they aim to have 1,000 genomes sequenced by the end of the year, and if all goes to plan, they will have 10,000 genomes sequenced by the end of 2015. The scientists firmly believe that those “more effective cancer treatments” will replace chemotherapy in the next 20 years.
Jeremy Farrer, the head of the Wellcome Trust said, “Twenty years from now there will be therapies, instead of chemo, that will be a much more targeted approach to treatment. Understanding humanity’s genetic code is not only going to be fundamental to the medicine of the future, it is an essential part of medicine today. In rare congenital disease, in cancer and in infections, genomic insights are already transforming diagnosis and treatment.”
The team expects that the $US545 million project will allow for the development of new, more effective treatments for cancer and other diseases. These new treatments are also expected to be less invasive than chemotherapy, and cause less severe side-effects.