Hot Topics in Cancer Research 2022


Cancer was once greatly feared. However, cancer research is continuously coming up with new and more effective ways to treat this dreaded disease which has resulted in increased remissions, longer lifespans, and more options for patients. Detection and prevention have also improved. Here we take a look at some of the latest research in 2022.

Genetic Testing 

Genetic testing of tumors enables individualized treatment plans instead of throwing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation at every malignancy. These therapies focus on the precise genetic mutations of each tumor. DNA analysis can also be used to screen at-risk people and start preventative measures.

CAR T Cell Therapy

CAR T cell therapy alters immune cells in the patient so that they attack cancer cells. So far, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this treatment protocol for blood cancers. The next step is to look at the use of CAR T cell therapy for solid tumors. 

Pembrolizumab (Keytruda)

Pembrolizumab functions as an immune checkpoint inhibitor. It acts on PD-L1, a protein with the ability to block the immune system, by preventing it from being able to do so. This enables the immune system to kill cancer. Cancer cells contain 90% or more PD-L1, making the protein easy to target.  Pembrolizumab has had great success in treating a wide range of cancers such as skin, lung, breast, and kidney malignancies.

Doctor with computer
Copyright: National Cancer Institute

RefleXion X1 

RefleXion X1 is a new device that makes it possible to find all the tumors in the body and concurrently apply targeted radiation. This means that diagnosis and treatment can be done in the same session. The device is designed to take the movement of organs into account and direct its action more precisely so that lower doses of radiation may be used.

Cancer Studies Using Lab Rats

Two models are primarily used to study how malignant tumors grow and metastasize, along with the effects of different treatments. These models transplant human cancer cells to mice. The genetically engineered mouse (GEM) model alters genes in the mice that are thought to be responsible for malignancy in humans and observes how changes to these genes affect tumors.

The second model is the human tumor xenograft. The lab mice are immunocompromised, and the perfect subject is one that has no natural killer cells, T-cells, or B-cells, as this prevents the transplanted tumor from being rejected. In liver cancer in humans, for example, the tumor is grafted onto the liver of the mouse.

It has been discovered that using rats instead of mice in these experiments has numerous advantages. The rat has a bigger body size, making it easier to carry out surgical procedures. This also permits xenograft tumors to increase to a greater size, resulting in more tissue samples being available for analysis. Finally, size renders In-vivo imaging of tumors more readily detectable. Additionally, toxicology studies using rats instead of mice are favored so the same animal can be used for this and a rat xenograft to monitor tumors.

Bit by bit, researchers are whittling away at cancer and finding new ways to conquer it.