If the exact cause of CML was known in , why were 11 more years required to identify and approve an effective treatment? Again, Wapner deftly and thoroughly explores a vastly different set of obstacles and challenges in the clinical development of the drug. She describes the complicated search for agents to target the defective kinases.
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She notes the disruption caused by the timing of the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy. Once interest had finally piqued and a potential drug identified, there were further interruptions resulting from conflicting animal toxicology and difficulties compounding the oral medication. These fits and starts make for lively and entertaining reading. Unfortunately they are frustrating to scientists and clinicians and frightening to patients, who understandingly are anxious to have successful therapies for serious diseases sooner rather than later. But the tale of The Philadelphia Chromosome is not an outlier.
The reality is that many medical discoveries have a similar timeline of long periods of intermittent progress followed by explosions of productivity. It is hard to envision how this can be altered dramatically.
The latter portion of the book bursts with the early optimism of the clinical trials and the controversies surrounding who should lead them. Wapner chronicles the rise of patient advocacy and the impact of Internet communication on the clinical trials process. Finally she explores the scuffles surrounding how to distribute credit for the discoveries. Transformational discoveries by definition change everything in ways difficult to foresee. One major hurtle to the drug's development was the lukewarm interest in any drug for a very rare disease.
The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene And The Quest To Cure Cancer
But no one inside or outside Novartis had forecast long years of successful treatment for CML patients. Nor did they anticipate expanded use of the drug for other diseases like GIST, myelodysplasias, and systemic mastocytosis and others that harbored the same aberrant protein target. The challenge for a book like The Philadelphia Chromosome is to appeal to the appropriate audience.
Most, if not all practicing oncologists already know both the science behind this discovery and the clinical success of Gleevec and the drugs to circumvent resistance which followed. From the public's perspective, CML is not a common cancer like breast cancer, and the typical reader has probably heard more about targeted or personalized therapy than about one of its best examples—CML and Gleevec. None the less, the saga is well told here and provides both oncologists and the public insights into the realities of scientific research.
Wapner highlights the importance of sustained financial stability to allow science to flourish. She also illustrates how critical the seemingly mundane technical advancements were to the subsequent critical scientific discoveries.
Curing Cancer With Genetics
Generally Wapner deals with complex science and medicine skillfully. These however are small medical miscues that detract little from the overall narrative.
In The Philadelphia Chromosome Wapner has captured the erratic and episodic nature of scientific and medical discovery through the lens of one of the most transformational discoveries in oncology of our time. For that reason, the book should find its way onto the booklists of lay audiences who seek to better understand how science actually works.
And, for those involved in cancer research, it is a well-known story, but one that is comprehensively covered in this well-crafted book. You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Please enable scripts and reload this page.
The Philadelphia Chromosome by Jessica Wapner - Curing Cancer
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Sweet practiced medicine for twenty years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco and she's just published a book about this remarkable facility, and about her time there, and, indeed, about the state of health care in America today. Everyone knows the Internet is affecting if not entirely changing just about every facet of life today, and one area where this is particularly apparent is that of health and medicine.
Have you ever googled your doctor? Or do you know someone who's done so? When Grant Coursey was a toddler, he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma , a cancer often found in young children.
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A tumor had wrapped itself around Grant's spinal cord and had grown so that it pushed against his lungs. Now 12, Grant is cancer-free; he received his first "clean" scan 10 years ago in March He had to undergo several procedures to rid his body of the cancer. Recently, Grant and his mother, Jennifer, sat down to talk about his young life and how cancer has affected it.
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Related The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Mutant Gene and the Quest to Cure Cancer at the Genetic Level
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