Molecular biology as a tool for the treatment of cancer

  • Carla de Castro Sant’ Anna
  • Alberto Gomes Ferreira Junior
  • Paulo Soares
  • Fabricio Tuji
  • Eric Paschoal
  • Luiz Cláudio Chaves
  • Rommel Rodriguez Burbano
Review Article


Cancer is a genetic disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth and metastasis. Cancer can have a number of causes, such the activation of oncogenes, the inactivation of tumor-suppressing genes, mutagenesis provoked by external factors, and epigenetic modifications. The development of diagnostic tools and treatments using a molecular biological approach permits the use of sensitive, low-cost, noninvasive tests for cancer patients. Biomarkers can be used to provide rapid, personalized oncology, in particular the molecular diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia, and gastric, colon, and breast cancers. Molecular tests based on DNA methylation can also be used to direct treatments or evaluate the toxic effects of chemotherapy. The adequate diagnosis, prognosis, and prediction of the response of cancer patients to treatment are essential to ensure the most effective therapy, reduce the damaging effects of treatment, and direct the therapy to specific targets, and in this context, molecular biology has become increasingly important in oncology. In this brief review, we will demonstrate the fundamental importance of molecular biology for the treatment of three types of cancer—chronic myeloid leukemia, hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, and astrocytomas (sporadic tumors of the central nervous system). In each of these three models, distinct biological mechanisms are involved in the transformation of the cells, but in all cases, molecular biology is fundamental to the development of personalized analyses for each patient and each type of neoplasia, and to guarantee the success of the treatment.


Biomarkers Epigenetics Molecular biology Cancer 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

As the review study did not include any personal data, the Ophir Loyola Hospital does not require submission to the ethics in research committee or any other form of institutional review.

Informed consent

As this manuscript is a literature review, informed consent is not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carla de Castro Sant’ Anna
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alberto Gomes Ferreira Junior
    • 1
  • Paulo Soares
    • 1
  • Fabricio Tuji
    • 1
  • Eric Paschoal
    • 1
  • Luiz Cláudio Chaves
    • 1
  • Rommel Rodriguez Burbano
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular BiologyOphir Loyola HospitalBelémBrazil
  2. 2.João de Barros Barreto University HospitalBelémBrazil

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