How Targeted Therapy Works

Video Transcript

When the DNA of a cell develops a mutation, the mutation can affect the function of a protein in a way that influences cellular reproduction and functions, causing cells to grow uncontrollably.

Some mutations create proteins that are sensitive to a very precise form of cancer treatment known as targeted therapy. Targeted therapy works by directly interacting with the mutated protein and inhibiting its pro-growth signaling.


There are multiple forms of targeted therapy.  One is a small molecule that enters the cell and binds to its target protein. This prevents the protein from working and shuts down the signaling pathway that tells the cancer cells to grow.  Another uses antibodies that recognize and bind to mutated proteins on the surface of the cell. This antibody can directly prevent the protein from signaling or can deliver a toxin directly to the cancer cell. Because some cancers need hormones to grow, hormone therapy is a type of targeted therapy that can either prevent the production of certain hormones or keep the hormones from being able to be used by cells.


Targeted therapy works, but only if we know what mutations the tumor has. By sequencing the DNA and RNA of a tumor, we can identify rare mutations many of which are highly sensitive or receptive to a specific type of targeted therapy. By contrast, some mutations cause resistance to targeted therapies and a patient would not receive any benefit from that treatment.


At Caris, we help oncologists understand which therapies work for which patients. Our goal is to partner with patients and doctors to understand every cancer and the best ways to treat it. Our comprehensive molecular profiling provides cutting edge information to provide the most personalized medicine available.

Help me find a doctor.

Help me talk to my doctor.

Patient Education Videos

The Central Principles of Molecular Biology video series is meant to help explain molecular profiling and cancer, so that you can understand how Caris molecular profiling helps fight cancer through precision oncology.