The therapy of complex human diseases has never been and will never be a simple process.
The combination of genetic background and a unique environmental pressure (broadly characterized as an epigenetic background) makes each cancer a unique therapeutic target. Oftentimes, standardized, uniform approaches to cancer treatment sometimes fail to yield desirable effects. It becomes increasingly obvious that the anticancer therapy has to be individualized.
A malignant transformation is a complex and multifactorial process that includes a sequential chain of molecular events within a specific cell or/and cell populations. Multiple signaling transduction pathways with the modified pro- and anti-apoptotic activities get altered. Literally thousands of genes change their activity, and it is often impossible to decipher which, if any, of the specific changes is the cause or a consequence of cancer. Most of the signaling pathways are well-characterized and catalogued in various databases such as UniProt, HPRD, QIAGEN SABiosciences, WikiPathways, Ariadne Pathway Studio, SPIKE, Reactome, KEGG, MetaCore, etc.
Despite the vast knowledge accumulated, there is still no unified treatment of cancer that works for all people with cancer. Perhaps there are as many different cancers as there are patients. Cancer is a very individual disease characterized by minute differences in specific signaling pathways among different patients. The first so-called targeted drugs aimed at direct suppression of the activity of the protein molecules involved in various signal transduction pathways that are activated in various cancers were introduced into clinical practice at the beginning of the 21st century. Despite initial promises, these drugs, which belong to the two main classes:kinase inhibitors (nibs) and monoclonal antibodies (mabs), failed to deliver a sufficient improvement in cancer treatments. Knowing the complex nature of changes in the signaling pathways that occur in cancers, it is not surprising that single-target drugs (mabs and nibs) do not work efficiently as one would like.
At CCARL, we believe that the success of the therapy of cancer depends on the proper identification of the set of molecular targets for individual treatment. Among many methods available for the molecular characterization of cancer, global transcriptome profiling offers the best possibility for the identification of the activity of all human genes. It allows to compare the profile of cancer and healthy tissues from the same patient and to identify the abnormal activation or suppression of various pro- and anti-mitotic signaling pathways.
As far as cancer treatment is concerned, the identification of the list of genes with the altered expression pattern is just a beginning. Whole-transcriptome analysis not only yields the information on specific pathological changes in specific signaling pathways but may also guide further decision-making processes of drug selection for a patient.