Fighting Cancer at Its Source

  • Share
  • Read Later
LOS ANGELES: This time, no one's talking cure. But the success of a drug called Herceptin in impeding the spread of breast cancer has scientists and patients alike buzzing anew about an old school of cancer treatment: attacking tumors at their genetic source.

Herceptin and others in the family of gene-based treatments don't kill tumors, they just slow them down. And they weren't invented Sunday; the genetic approach has been around for 25 years. But the concept -- getting to the very heart of the disease instead of firebombing it with chemicals and radiation -- is tantalizing indeed, and Herceptin's successes have suddenly given validation to the field. And patients won't have to wait long for the drug. The FDA has agreed to "fast track" Herceptin; its maker, Genentec, hopes that Herceptin will be available before the end of the year.