But targeting them by small molecules that seek to simply reverse the effects of oncogenic mutations will have little efficacy outside of a few cases like Gleevec and CML. Blood cancers are very different from carcinomas in this respect. Getting the immune system to recognize and respond to the differences in cancer cells is a better bet by far. Also, a small molecule has no chances to adapt to changes it induces in the tumor as the tumor responds to the Darwinian selection pressure that it represents, but the immune system is likely to. Also, once one set of tumor antigens are recognized, the tumor material is delivered back to the lymph nodes as cells are wiped out and become trash to be taken out. Theoretically, once a robust immune response is initiated, it should amplify given all the plethora of TAAs present in any given tumor. I think that small molecules have their place as adjuvants for immune therapies as they will flush tumor materials into the lymph nodes concurrently with the application of stimulating immune therapies. It has been shown that tryosine kinase inhibitors are synergistic with MDX-1106 for example, probably for this reason. The timing of applying Zelboraf in conjunction with A7 and either Yervoy or MDX-1106 will be an interesting downstream question if A7 wins FDA approval.
btw, public funding for basic research into cancer is at historic lows and it has absolutely sucked the air out of the room in terms of private funding. I would encourage everyone to give something, anything, to your favorite cancer group, from the ACS to the Leukemia Lymphoma society, or whatever. These groups support good projects and the careers of struggling early stage investigators, who are currently being lost to the field. Companies do not do basic research, they do development. The results of publicly funded basic research is published in peer reviewed journals, the product of research at companies are proprietary and the information is protected. Those supported by public funding represent a pool of talented objective minds that act to vet corporate claims and they also are responsible for the education of all those who populate the benches at biotech and pharma, and the physicians understand and prescribe their products. Vical did not discover any of the biology it uses to produce its products. This is the same for every company out there. These companies are to a large extent the product of public funding through the federal government. Current pay lines for grants at the National Cancer Institute are running between 4-6% depending on the study sections that get it, down from 25% during the Varmus era. It has been this way for six years now. The career is now an exercise in futility. Maybe you should be merciful and not give.