As we witness the end of the first decade of the 21st century, the questions we cancer researchers are most frequently asked are: when we are going to find the cure for cancer; and why we have not found it yet?
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At national and international conferences we see that data are interpreted at a more assertive rhythm and answers at the genetic and cellular level are generated at a similar pace, moving basic research forward into the oncology clinics and cancer centers globally. Recognized by the major funding agencies in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Japan as a top priority focus, cancer research drives translational applications from the bench to the clinic at a phenomenal rate, impacting therapeutic outcomes and affecting the lives of millions around the world. Yet, we still cannot declare with any degree of confidence to the scientific community that we have found the cure for cancer. The task is most challenging, the expectations are high, and the patience for clinically meaningful answers is running thin.
These notions are translated by the public into a belief that powerful technology-driven research and long-term investment in the most talented scientific minds have yet to deliver cures, improve diagnosis, and increase patient survival. There is a general assumption that the complexity of cancer — both as a biological phenomenon and as a life-threatening disease — presents major obstacles in the fight to deliver an effective cure and maximally impact patient survival and quality of life after cancer; nevertheless there have been tremendous strides in research that lead to new treatments. An understanding that uncontrolled tumor growth is due not only to aberrant cell proliferation, but also to an imbalance between cell proliferation and programmed cell death, opened many exciting avenues for therapeutic investigations by selectively targeting apoptosis among the tumor cells. Apoptosis, identified as a biological process vital to the well-being of an organism and defined as a genetically programmed phenomenon less than forty years ago, holds tremendous promise for the treatment of cancer in its molecular
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