For a Cure


Relevance Writing 3 Kenneth A. Dolle University of Wisconsin River Falls

For a Cure


A Roller Coaster Chase for a Cure
By AMY HARMON Published: February 21, 2010

Summary of Article The article entitled A Roller Coaster Chase for a Cure is an article about a doctor that is very passionate about finding a cure for cancer, and feels that a cure is very near. The doctor’s name is Dr. Keith Flaherty and he is a doctor at University of Pennsylvania’s melanoma clinic. Dr. Keith Flaherty works cancer patients that have nothing to lose with experimental drug trial. The drug being used reverses cancer mutations. After trying the drug and failing Dr. Flaherty thinks that the dose was not potent enough to be effective. This type of treatment is considered to be targeted therapy, and Dr. Flaherty thought that the targeted therapy revolution was right around the corner. His favorite patients were ones with melanoma cancer because they were often eager to find a cure. He became interested in Melanoma after what was proposed to be a major driver gene in the mellonomic cancer. The driver gene is called the B-RAF and Dr. Flaherty thought that if you could block the protein that it takes to make the mutated gene you could stop cancer. At this point many of his collogues were unsure if he was on the right track or of this targeted therapy was a lost hope. But unlike his colleagues a small biotechnology company called
Plexxikon was very interested in his belief and work. Just like when Dr. Flaherty read the article on the B-RAF gene mutation Plexxikon was also interested in the mutated gene. Dr. Flaherty believed that the Bayer drug company failed because the drug blocked proteins from healthy ones as well as cancerous ones making the dosage that one could take with out side effects limited. The drug called PLX4032 was different, designed to bind to the B-RAF protein only in cancer cells was developed by Plexxikon. When the drug was tested on mice

For a Cure
tumors stopped growing and there were no side effects in dogs or monkeys. Dr. Flaharety


would sign on with the company and would be the first to do a human trial named phase 1. Phase one failed and Dr. Flaherety believed it was because the dose was too small and the patient was not absorbing the drug so Plexxikon made it 10 times stronger and easier to absorb. After the phase two drugs came out Dr. Flaharety gave them to a patient that at first saw that he was in late stages of melonomic cancer that hospice might be the best bet. The patient a retired film editor insisted on the drug. Some unstated time passed and Dr. Flaharety did a scan of his tumors and was in shock because he struggled to see them. Could it be the drug he was looking for. If so the story will have to be continued because that is where it ended.

Relevant topic Discussed in Class One of the major topics in this article was cancer. Our Biology 100 definition of cancer is a loss of control over the cell cycle. This occurs when the cell cycle proceeds even when conditions are not ok. This usually occurs when two or more mutations occur in the cell. Mutations turn off normal contact inhibition gene which normally stops a cell from dividing when the cell comes in contact with other cells. Mutations can also turn on angiogenesis (new blood) gene once this happens the tumor can grow big and strong because it has lots of nutrients and oxygen. Cancer creates either benign or malignant tumors; in this article the cancer tumors described was malignant which means that it invaded surrounding tissue. Benign tumors are normal and everyone has them they do not invade surrounding tissue. Some cancer is hereditary meaning that you inherit the risk, or predisposition to certain cancers. Things that cause a gene to become mutated in a cell are cigarette smoke, chemicals and radiation. Cancer therapies range from chemotherapy, surgery, and biotherapy. We did discuss the idea that if it would be possible

For a Cure


targeted therapy would be the most effective treatment in the battle against cancer. This was the the type of cancer therapy used to fight the mellonomic cancer described in the article.