Cancer Current Affairs - 2019
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The World Cancer Day (WCD) is observed every year on 4 February across the world to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. Its primary goal is to reduce the illness and related deaths by 2020.
The theme (tagline) for this year is “We can. I can”. It reflects on what everyone can do to raise awareness of cancer and asks to take pledge and action in fight against cancer. “We can. I can” is special three-year campaign for the World Cancer Day from year 2016 to 2018. It seeks to explore how everyone- as individuals or as a collective – can do their part to reduce the burden of cancer globally.
The WCD was instituted by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) in 2008 by formally writing goals of the World Cancer Declaration. The primary goal of observing the day is to reduce illness and death caused by it by 2020. The origin of day can be traced to 2000 at first World Summit Against Cancer, which was held in Paris, France.
It is Geneva based leading international non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in 1933. Its purpose is to help the global health community to accelerate the fight against cancer. It has a membership of over 800 organisations spread across 155 countries.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved first gene therapy, a treatment that uses patient’s own immune cells to fight acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
The approval will usher new approach to treatment of cancer and other serious and life-threatening diseases. Studies have shown that 83% of patients responded to this treatment, achieving remission within three months.
The gene therapy treatment was originally developed by researchers at University of Pennsylvania and licensed to pharma giant Novartis. It was previously identified as CAR-T cell therapy (CTL019) or tisagenlecleucel and now is called Kymriah.
The treatment is completely different compared to present popular immunotherapy drugs called “checkpoint inhibitors” used to harness immune system that treat variety of cancers by helping the body’s natural T cells better spot tumors.
The CAR-T treatment is not a pill or form of chemotherapy. It uses gene therapy techniques not to fix disease-causing genes (cells) but to turbocharge T cells, immune system cells that cancer can evade. These cells removed from patient’s blood along with white blood cells are encoded with viral vector, reprogrammed in lab. They are reprogrammed to harbor chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that specifically targets cancer cells. The revived and reprogrammed cells after returned to the patient continue multiplying to fight disease for months or years.