Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets proteins that control how cancer cells grow, divide, and spread. It is the basis for all of precision medicine.
Researchers first identify the genetic changes that help a tumor grow and change. A potential target for this therapy would be a protein that is present in cancer cells but not healthy cells. Once researchers have identified a mutation, they develop a treatment that targets that specific mutation.
Targeted therapies can do a number of different things to the cancer cells they target:
- Block or turn off signals that tell cancer cells to grow and divide
- Prevent the cells from living longer than normal
- Destroy cancer cells