Perhaps one of the grimmest implications of the "C" word, is the other "C" word that tends to go along with it: chemotherapy.
The side effects of chemotherapy are often emotionally and physically draining, painful and even dangerous because healthy cells become casualties in chemo's war on Cancer.
Chemotherapy has been the primary cancer-fighting solution for nearly half a century, but there's an exciting innovation in development that might prove to be more effective and less problematic.
It's called Oncolinx and, according to its CEO and co-founder Sourav Sinha, it binds directly onto a signal that is only found on cancer cells, and releases a potent drug just to those cells, effectively sparing healthy ones.
He describes the drug like a missile with an advanced navigation system that takes it right to its target.
Oncolinx was originated after Sourav and his team participated in the Breast Cancer Startup Challenge in 2014. Through that program, they identified the top ten most promising technologies and spun one out into a company.
"Nothing was clinically relevant so we had to take that technology and generate data to show that these drugs actually work," Sinha told A Plus. "We got to the point where the data was strong enough to get big pharmaceutical companies to partner up with us."
Dr. Nadya Tarasova did the initial work and the Oncolinx team went on to partner with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and several academic groups to develop a working prototype.
Next step: human trials.
Oncolinx was recently included on the roster of exciting new startups at RECESS FIELD DAY in Venice, California. They've now partnered with more than ten leading pharmaceutical companies and expect to begin Phase 1 clinical trials this time next year, which will involve testing the technology on human patients with tumors.
The trial will target cancer stem cells, which Sinha describes as a weed in a garden. The roots of the weed drive the return of the cancer, metastasis, and drug resistance. Wipe out the roots, and you've eliminated the growth for good.
"What's most interesting about it is how quickly the science has evolved and plays into real hope for patients," Sinha said. "It's really night and day between what our drugs look like and what untargeted chemo looks like. That's what is most exciting for us and why we do what we do."