Although cancer is the number one cause of death in our society, our understanding of and ability to treat this disease has progressed substantially in the past decade. For prostate cancer, we’ve gone from one possible treatment to six clinically used drugs and more than doubled survival rates.
All of this is largely due to investment in research, such as that of Martin Gleave, Distinguished Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Urologic Sciences at the University of British Columbia.
Professor Gleave specifically works on understanding cancer resistance. Resistance is when a cancer cell stops responding to a drug. “Living organisms want to live even when conditions become harsh,” says Gleave. In the case of cancer, this is a huge problem and a major cause of cancer mortality. Gleave’s research has improved classification of individual cancers on a scale of aggressiveness, helping to personalize treatments. He is also working on rational combinations of existing drugs “creating incredible, durable responses that were otherwise unfathomable ten years ago.”
“We’re only now harvesting the seeds that were planted several decades ago in research,” says Gleave.