Cancer research, a field on the verge of a paradigm shift?

Ido Goldstein*, Shalom Madar, Varda Rotter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

13 Scopus citations


The theoretical framework for the field of cancer research is based on two main principles. The first is that cancer advances in a stepwise manner, with each alteration driving cells further toward a malignant state. Second, to cure cancer we must target only cancer-specific properties. Here, we analyze the birth and propagation of the cancer research paradigm. We believe the current paradigm is immersed in crisis and that the field would benefit from integrating theories within and outside the normal modes of research to compile a new framework, with the hope of faster progress and significantly fewer cancer-related deaths.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)299-303
Number of pages5
JournalTrends in Molecular Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We must bear in mind that finding a ‘magic bullet’ is a means to an end. The ultimate goal of cancer research is to produce a reality where fewer people suffer and die from cancer, whether it is because it was cured, contained at a stable, bearable stage, or prevented from developing altogether. Although this concept is fairly accepted among physicians, for most cancer researchers the battle against cancer is still a battle of ‘all or none’. Moreover, to appeal to funding agencies, most cancer research grant proposals comply with the targeted therapy concept and offer new and tempting magic bullets. Both laboratory leaders and funding bodies should adjust to the changing times and consider channeling more resources to complementing strategies that decrease cancer-related deaths at the expense of developing the ‘ultimate drug’.


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Kuhn
  • Paradigm shift
  • Targeted therapy


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