But most of these treatments attack not just cancer cells, but healthy cells, too. Thus, people taking the drugs too often suffer horrible side effects on top of whatever havoc the cancer itself is already wreaking. They become thin and weak. They lose their hair and their color.
But now, the next revolution in cancer therapy may have arrived.
It’s called “molecularly targeted therapy.” The treatment consists of drugs designed at the molecular level of the cell to specifically attack and kill only the cancer cells of a specific type of cancer. And they are tailor-made to recognize specific molecules unique to specific cancers.
The model drug leading the way is Glivec, also known as STI571. It is active against a relatively rare form of leukemia — chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML — characterized by excessive overproduction of white blood cell