Methodology of rational drug development has rapidly advanced during last decades, giving rise to many juicy and flashy terms. These terms are, however, not always that informative and specific as they might seem at first glance. A good example is “targeted therapy” and “targeted drug delivery”. These terms most likely sound very similar, but actually describe two completely different treatment methodologies. The keyword “targeted” appears to be a very broad term meaning an action on a specific part of a system while simultaneously avoiding the action on the rest of the system.
A new term coming up these days that also sounds very intriguing but not telling very much about the details of the methodology is “Precision Oncology”. The definition was coined this year (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v537/n7619_supp/full/537S63a.html) and proposes an idea of using DNA sequence information from individual patients to tailor what therapy they should get. In other words, some sorts of personalized medicine.
“Precision oncology promises to pair individuals having cancer with drugs that target the specific mutations in their tumor, in the hope of producing long-lasting remission and extending survival. The basic idea is to use genetic testing to link patients with the drugs that will work best for them, irrespective of the tissue of origin of their tumor”.
There is already a discussion on the internet regarding the potential of this approach (http://blogs.sciencemag.org/pipeline/archives/2016/09/12/precision-oncology-isnt-quite-there-yet). It can be another “Big Thing” trend in era of anti-cancer drug development and I hope it will result in a breakthrough in the war against cancer. For now both “Precision oncology”, “targeted therapy” and “targeted drug delivery” are all a methodological variation of the good old Paul Ehrlich’s “Magic Bullet” concept. Everything new is well forgotten old.