So protonsil and salvarsan 606 where both used as the first magic bullets in the modern period of medicine in the 1900s. However, if we can create artificial antibodies that target specific diseases how have we not come up with a cure for cancer? It seems it shouldn't be that difficult. But if we COULD create artificial antibodies that target cancerous cells would we be able to do it effectively without the drug having any bad or quite noticeable side effects on the body?

By the looks of it chemotherapy is the closest we have gotten so far in chemical drugs, but it does have some nasty side effects.

I was aware of 5 of the approved treatments. However each type of cancer is similar but different, would it be ever possible to create a generic treatment?

Edit: I have found something interesting, scientist have come across a way to change the antigen on a cell however it is not fully understood.

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    $\begingroup$ The Wikipedia article on cancer immunotherapy includes 9 different US FDA-approved anti-cancer antibody treatments. Can you clarify if your question is because you were unaware of these treatments or if you have some other question? $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Jun 10 '19 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ Adding to @BryanKrause comment: These therapies often show spectacular results in the patients where they work, but it is not yet understood, why they don't do this in all the patients. $\endgroup$ – Chris Jun 11 '19 at 5:44
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    $\begingroup$ To over-simplify is bit, the problem is that cancer is not caused by foreign agents like bacteria or viruses, it is caused by a small change in the body's own cells. It's thus very difficult to create antibodies that recognize the cancer cells as "foreign". $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 11 '19 at 15:49

This is a good question.

The first answer is that there are antibody therapeutics for cancer.

These fall into two categories which I will call therapeutic and immunotherapy (this is not typical naming but, keeping it simple they will do).

Therapeutic antibodies are designed to bind to an enzyme or signalling protein that will weaken the tumor specifically. An example is an antibody to nutrient intake receptors (cancers eat a lot more than other cells). HER2 is a receptor that is heavily populated on breast cancer tissue. Antibodies that inhibit HER2 activity can slow the growth of breast cancer specifically with minimal toxic effects.

There are also antibodies to proteins found only on cancer cells. These can be specific antibodies (monoclonal antibodies) to proteins from a mutation that only the cancer cell has.

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