Why is Cancer so Hard? Marion Cubbitt tells us her thoughts…

Researchers have been trying to fight cancer for over 100 years, yet there’s still no cure. What makes treating cancer so challenging? We asked our experts at Isogenica for their views: 

For our Director of Discovery Marion Cubitt it’s mutational burden – in other words, the genetic diversity of cancer cells: 

“When I started working in oncology it took a while to appreciate the magnitude of the task. I distinctly remember watching a conference talk on mutational burden and thinking – wow – I hadn’t appreciated that each cancer really is a parasite, a living thing that’s constantly changing.  

Coming from a microbiology background originally, there’s an obvious parallel between bacteria developing antibiotic resistance, for example, and a cancer trying to outrun its host’s immune system.”  

When we treat an infection with antibiotics, bacteria can develop resistance due to genetic mutations that alter their susceptibility to certain drugs. Similarly, in tumours with a high mutational burden, treatments targeting specific genetic mutations exert a selection pressure, leading to the emergence of subclones resistant to that treatment.  

In order to address this issue, we need to find a way to maximise the effectiveness of initial treatments. One way to do that is through early diagnosis – if the tumour cell population has less time to evolve, treatments are more likely to be successful. 

But if those cancer treatments do fail, every relapse can result in a more complex and diverse population of tumour cells. 

So, how do we tackle this challenge?  

We’ll be speaking with our expert team to delve deeper into the complexities of treating cancer, but we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic as well. Make sure to follow us on LinkedIn so you don’t miss what our experts have to say! 

About Isogenica

Isogenica is a biotechnology company specializing in the discovery and development of small format single chain VHH antibodies. We are leaders in our domain, having developed a fully synthetic, in vitro plug-and-play cassette-based approach to efficiently generate combinations of bi- and tri-specific biotherapeutics. Drawing on more than 20 years at the forefront of antibody discovery and engineering, we have built a unique and proven engine for biotherapeutic development and a deep pipeline including two clinical stage assets and more than ten partnered pre-clinical and discovery stage programmes.


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