150 Years of Advances Against Cancer - 1970s
|1970||Howard Temin and David Baltimore discover the enzyme reverse transcriptase (RT). RT synthesizes complementary DNA copies of RNA templates and will soon become an important tool in cancer research.|
Congress passes the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, which bans the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio beginning January 2, 1971.
The prevalence of U.S. adult smoking declines to 37.4 percent.
|1971||Alfred Knudson proposes the “two-hit” mutation hypothesis for the development of retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye that mainly affects children under the age of 6. He suggests that retinoblastoma is caused by two genetic mutations, one that is inherited and one that occurs after birth. This hypothesis is consistent with the multi-step nature of carcinogenesis originally proposed by Carl Nordling in 1953.|
President Richard M. Nixon converts the Army's former biological warfare facilities at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, to laboratories for research on the causes, treatment, and prevention of cancer.
Cisplatin, a platinum-containing anticancer compound, enters clinical trials.
President Richard M. Nixon signs the National Cancer Act of 1971 on December 23. This Act authorizes the NCI Director to coordinate all activities of the National Cancer Program, to establish national cancer research centers, and to establish national cancer control programs.
Godfrey Hounsfield and James Ambrose perform the first computed tomography (CT) scan of a human patient—a woman with a suspected brain tumor.
|1973||NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program is established to collect and analyze data on cancer incidence, prevalence, and mortality in the United States.|
Certifications in medical oncology and gynecologic oncology are offered for the first time.
The inventor Dean Kamen develops the first portable drug infusion pump.
|1974||The FDA approves doxorubicin, an anthracycline antibiotic from Streptomyces bacteria, for the treatment of cancer.|
Michael Hoffman, Edward Phelps, and their colleagues construct a whole-body positron emission tomography (PET) scanner for human studies. The results of initial studies with patients are reported in 1976.
|1975||Hybridoma technology is developed for the production of monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies will become important tools in cancer research and treatment.|
Clinical use of flexible sigmoidoscopy for the diagnosis of colorectal disease begins.
Edwin Southern describes a method for transferring fragments of DNA that have been separated by gel electrophoresis on the basis of size to a filter membrane and then localizing specific nucleotide sequences on the membrane by hybridization with complementary DNA probes. This technique, eventually known as “Southern blotting,” will become an important tool in cancer research and lay the foundation for the development of DNA microarray technology.
The Society for Surgical Oncology and the Oncology Nursing Society are established.
|1976||The results of a randomized clinical trial show that women with early breast cancer who receive post-operative (adjuvant) combination chemotherapy with the drugs cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-FU have improved disease-free survival.|
Dominique Stehelin, Harold Varmus, J. Michael Bishop, and Peter Vogt discover that the DNA of normal chicken cells contains a gene that is related to the oncogene of avian sarcoma virus, which causes cancer in chickens. The researchers suggest that the chicken gene may regulate normal cell growth and development, as well as the malignant transformation of cells in response to physical, chemical, or viral agents. Related DNA will later be identified in human cells. The human gene, c-Src, represents the first human proto-oncogene identified.
Interleukin-2 is discovered in mice. This protein, an immune system cytokine (a hormone-like substance), plays a role in T lymphocyte development and will later be used in cancer therapy.
NCI's Cancer Information Service (1-800-4-CANCER) begins operation.
|1977||Raymond Damadian, Larry Minkoff, and Michael Goldsmith perform the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination of a human.|
Allan Maxam and Walter Gilbert describe the first efficient method to determine the nucleotide sequence of DNA.
The first national cancer patient education program (I Can Cope) is founded.
NCI establishes the first electronic registry of cancer clinical trials (CLINPROT). This registry is the first cancer information product included in what will later become known as the Physician Data Query (PDQ) database.
|1978||The first human testing of a biological therapy for cancer—interferon alpha (a type I interferon)—is conducted.|
Tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen drug, is approved by the FDA for the treatment of breast cancer.
Metastatic cancer cells are shown to arise from pre-existing subpopulations of cells in primary tumors.
The FDA approves cisplatin for use in combination with other drugs in the treatment of metastatic testicular cancer and metastatic ovarian cancer.
|1979||The tumor suppressor gene p53 is discovered. Tumor suppressor genes are genes whose protein products help control cell growth. The p53 gene is the most frequently mutated gene in human cancer.|
Harry Towbin, Theophil Staehelin, and Julian Gordon describe a method for transferring proteins that have been separated by gel electrophoresis on the basis of size to a nitrocellulose filter that can then be probed with antibodies to detect individual proteins. This technique, known as “Western blotting,” will become an important tool for cancer researchers.