Milestones | 10 December 2020

Milestones in cancer

  • Milestone 1 2001

    Routes to resistance

    Resistance to targeted treatment can be achieved through markedly distinct but functionally convergent approaches, thus showing that certain genes and mutations remain essential drivers of tumour growth and survival. Read more.

    By Ilse Valtierra

  • Milestone 2 2004

    Tracking cancer in liquid biopsies

    A study published by Cristofanilli et al. is the first to use the CellSearch platform to show that the number of circulating epithelial cells in the blood is markedly higher in women with metastatic breast cancer before starting systemic therapy than in women without breast cancer or with benign breast disease. Read more.

    By Diana Romero

  • Milestone 3 2004

    When cancer prevention went viral

    A trial by Harper et al. provides the first evidence that vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) might decrease cervical cancer risk: Cervarix, a bivalent vaccine for HPVs 16 and 18, is found to decrease the risk of associated cervical abnormalities from 4.9% to 0.4%. Read more.

    By Peter Sidaway

  • Milestone 4 2005

    A licence to kill

    Two landmark studies by the groups of Alan Ashworth in collaboration with KuDOS Pharmaceuticals Ltd., and of Thomas Helleday and Nicola Curtin demonstrate that human cancer cells with mutations in the tumour-suppressor genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are sensitive to poly(ADP–ribose) polymerase inhibitors. Read more.

    By Barbara Marte

  • Milestone 5 2005

    Sitting on the fence

    Four groups report remarkable in vivo evidence of the existence of oncogene-induced senescence in several mouse and human premalignant tissues. These studies demonstrate that pathways underlying oncogene-induced senescence are dependent on the tumour tissue and oncogenic insult. Read more.

    By Linda Gummlich

  • Milestone 6 2006

    Not a simple switch

    Warburg believed that the origin of cancer was based purely on metabolic alterations. We know today that Warburg was not quite right: oncogenic signalling fundamentally contributes to malignant transformation, partly by regulating metabolism. Read more.

    By Ulrike Harjes

  • Animation

    Targeting Cancer Cell Metabolism

    Cancer cells are hungry. To feed their rapid growth and division, their metabolism changes. Moreover, they use sugar (glucose) in a different way to normal cells. This animation, created by Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, explores the key aspects of the altered metabolism in cancer cells and explains how these can be exploited for the development of new anticancer strategies.

    Please visit YouTube to view this video.

  • Animation

    Decoding Cancer Immunology: Hunting Hidden Tumours

    The immune system is constantly on the lookout for threats, but cancer isn’t always easy to spot. Some cancer cells can fly under the radar. Now, advanced sequencing technologies are enabling scientists to investigate the unique genetics of both cancers and immune responses in individual patients. This means researchers can develop treatments that boost the immune system and help the body win its battle against cancer.

    Please visit YouTube to view this video.

  • Milestone 7 2008

    Sequencing the secrets of the cancer genome

    The first cancer whole-genome sequence, of an acute myeloid leukaemia from a woman in her mid-50s, is published in 2008 by Ley et al. Read more.

    By Michael Fletcher

  • Webinar

    On demand: Genomic Medicine in Cancer webinar

    Register for webinar

  • Milestone 8 2010

    Unleashing the immune system against cancer

    Ipilimumab, an antibody to CTLA-4, makes history as the first immune-checkpoint inhibitor to be approved by the FDA, thus validating the approach to immunotherapy originally proposed by James Allison. Read more.

    By David Killock

  • Animation

    Immunology Wars: Monoclonal antibodies

    Our immune systems are at war with cancer. This animation reveals how monoclonal antibodies can act as valuable reinforcements to shore up our defences – and help battle cancer.

    Please visit YouTube to view this video.

  • Milestone 9 2010

    Engineering armed T cells for the fight

    Multiple studies in the past two decades have shown that chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells and TCR T cells have clinical activity, thus advancing the field of adoptive cell therapy, which has seen remarkable results, particularly in B cell malignancies. Read more.

    By M. Teresa Villanueva

  • Animaton

    Tumor Immunology and Immunotherapy

    This animation created by Nature Reviews Cancer and Nature Reviews Immunology illustrates how tumour cells are sensed and destroyed by cells of the immune system and how tumours can evolve to evade immune-mediated elimination. Scientists are developing new immunotherapies that help the immune system to ‘fight back’—the animation explains how these exciting new drugs work.

    Please visit YouTube to view this video.

  • 2011

    Results of national lung cancer screening trial

    A study of more than 50,000 people at high risk of lung cancer shows that screening with low-dose helical computed tomography can decrease mortality from lung cancer.

    Related article: Reduced Lung-Cancer Mortality with Low-Dose Computed Tomographic Screening

  • Milestone 10 2012

    Oncohistones: epigenetic drivers of cancer

    Two seminal studies reveal the presence of mutations affecting the histone H3 genes in paediatric high-grade gliomas, including glioblastomas. Read more.

    By Monica Wang

  • Milestone 11 2012

    Tumour evolution: from linear paths to branched trees

    Gerlinger et al. provide a direct demonstration of multiple genetically related subclones within a solid tumour and their phylogenetic relationships. This study has driven a shift in thinking of tumours in Darwinian terms—from linear to tree-like cancer evolution. Read more.

    By Linda Koch

  • Webinar

    On demand: Cancer genomics & single cell technologies

    Register for webinar

  • Milestone 12 2013

    Undruggable? Inconceivable

    The lack of success in identifying RAS inhibitors led many to call RAS undruggable. Then Kevin Shokat’s lab developed a groundbreaking inhibitor of the KRAS G12C mutant, targeting one of the most prevalent RAS alterations in non–small cell lung cancer. Read more.

    By Megan Cully

  • Milestone 13 2013

    Good bacteria make for good cancer therapy

    Two seminal studies from the groups of Laurence Zitvogel and Giorgio Trinchieri shed light on the idea that the gut microbiota might influence host responses to cancer therapeutics via the immune system. Read more.

    By Anna Dart

  • Video

    How to tackle global inequities in cancer

    Cancer can affect everybody, but not equally. Certain people, whether because of their gender, race, education or socio-economic status see worse outcomes from cancer. Access to cancer screening can differ, as well as the quality of patients’ lives after treatment. Our knowledge of biological aspects is also increasing. Professor Sulma Mohammed’s research looks at ways to understand and tackle these cancer health inequities, with a focus on sub-saharan Africa.

    Please visit YouTube to view this video.

  • 2016

    FDA approval of atezolizumab for bladder cancer

  • Milestone 14 2017

    The AI revolution in cancer

    Esteva et al. publish a landmark study in the field of computer vision applied to cancer detection. Read more.

    By Miguel Foronda

  • Video

    Cancer, ageing, and the importance of the tumour microenvironment

    Professor Ashani Weeraratna has been studying the cancer microenvironment in her lab for the past 17 years. Taking into account that the tissues in our bodies change as we age is important when researching cancer biology. She hopes that gaining a better understanding of how the growth of cancer cells is affected by their direct cellular ‘neighbourhood’, especially when we age, could be key to developing better treatments for patients with cancer.

    Please visit YouTube to view this video.

Nature Milestones in Cancer

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