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For the past 75 years, our cancer treatment paradigm has been largely monovalent, or single target, in its approach; Cancer drugs have been designed to target, and then block, a single biological target in a single pathway.

For certain types of cancer, the aberrant cell biology is a perfect match for a single-target drug’s design, which happens in a small percentage of cases. But even then, therapies may often only add a few months to a patient's life, while putting them through toxic treatments with negative side effects that diminish quality of life. Disease progression (drug resistance) eventually occurs because cancer is the consummate creative problem solver. To survive, cancer cells work around blocked pathways.

The human body is a complicated, dynamic ecosystem. Each patient is unique, each cancer is unique and cancer is complex.

Our decoding of the human genome and recent biomedical progress have underscored this complexity. We now understand that in order to arrest cancer we must look beyond the cell. We must address the cell, the stroma and the host immunobiology.

A healthy immune system - and our body’s ability to detect cancer - is our greatest strength. The field of immunotherapy offers new perspective - and promise. Immunotherapy drugs are making gains but they are still single target in their approach.

We must go further and address the fundamental complexity of cancer with a whole systems biology approach. Therapies - alone and in combination - need to impact not one, but many different and diverse pathways associated with cancer, whilst empowering and restoring the immune system’s ability to seek and destroy cancer as it was designed to do.

At Omnitura, we call this multivalent.

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This article was written by Omnitura Insights with Simon Sutcliffe, MD. Dr. Sutcliffe is Vice Chairman- Societal Impact & Chief Medical Officer of Omnitura Therapeutics.