Even though 382,000 new cases of cancer were recorded in France during 2018, the overall survival rate has improved thanks to earlier diagnosis and advances in treatment.
Until the 2000s, doctors were looking for molecules that destroyed cancer cells without always knowing how they worked, but now targeted treatments are being established in a more rational and systematic manner.
Tumours differ from one another so targeted therapies accompanied by effective diagnostic tools are used to check that the right target is indeed present in the patient.
New anti-cancer drugs are the result of this change in approach and these treatments can have spectacular effects – although tolerance can still be an issue.
Alessandro Flacco, Associate professor at ENSTA (IP Paris)
On October 21st, 2021
3 mins reading time
Associate professor at ENSTA (IP Paris)
Radiotherapy is used to destroy cancer cells as precisely as possible, without affecting the surrounding healthy cells.
Since the 1990s, doctors have been using proton therapies, and more recently, the use of electron beams in cancer treatment has been studied.
Recent findings showed that the toxicity of radiation is related to the duration of exposure; known as the ‘flash effect’, a short burst of radiation.
The shorter the time, the less healthy cells are affected thanks to less burning and less fibrosis.
This discovery has prompted scientists to re-explore sources of particles such as pulsed lasers that provide fast and very locally intense radiation – or by injecting nanoparticles.
After her initial studies in molecular biology, Agnès Vernet trained as a science journalist at ESJ-Lille. For the past 14 years, she has been writing for various media, scientific magazines, professional titles and general press, in France and Switzerland. Since 1st February 2021, she is the elected President of the French association of science journalists (AJSPI).
Alessandro Flacco works on the application of laser particle sources to biology and medicine. He has long worked on the physics of plasmas created by very high intensity lasers and on the acceleration of protons by laser-matter interaction. He is an associate professor at ENSTA Paris and a researcher at LOA (Laboratoire d'Optique Appliquée: joint research unit CNRS, ENSTA, École Polytechnique).