Areas of Focus | Targeted Cancer Therapies - NFCR

Targeted Cancer Therapies

Targeted Cancer Therapies

What is Targeted Cancer Therapies?

Targeted cancer therapies use drugs to more precisely identify and attack cancer cells, based on a person’s genes, as compared to traditional cancer treatments. As such, targeted cancer therapies are sometimes called “molecularly targeted drugs” or “molecularly targeted therapies” and allow for more personalized treatments.

In addition to being molecularly-focused, targeted therapies are often cytostatic (which means they block tumor cell proliferation), whereas standard chemotherapy agents are cytotoxic (which means they kill tumor cells). Therefore, many targeted drugs go after the mechanisms that make cancer cells different than normal cells and leave the healthy cells alone.

NFCR Research Highlights

At the NFCR Center for Targeted Cancer Therapies, Co-Directors Dr. Daniel Von Hoff and Dr. Laurence Hurley have been working together on a genetic structure-based approach to drug design. They combine Dr. Hurley’s medicinal chemistry research with Dr. Von Hoff’s clinical oncology program in cancer therapeutics.

The researchers at the Center are currently working on an entirely new approach to treating cancer by developing drugs that block newly-recognized genetic structures called “super enhancers.” These large clusters of DNA regulatory elements control the expression of a host of genes — including the critical cancer gene c-Myc – and offer a great opportunity for cancer disruption. This new approach may lead to improved treatments for pancreatic cancer, lung cancer (the small-cell type, in particular), lymphoma, multiple myeloma, colorectal and other cancers.