A Cure For Cancer?

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Sun, 3 May 1998 10:17:43 -0700 (PDT)


There is a very dramatic article about cancer research on the front page of
today's New York Times, the headline is "A Cautious Awe Greets Drugs That
Eradicate Tumors In Mice".

All cancers must induce normal cells to produce blood vessels to supply the
tumor with the nutrients it needs. A few years ago Dr. Judah Folkman at
Children's Hospital in Boston discovered two very rare proteins in human
blood that he thought might interfere with this process. Progress has been
slow up to now because it was very difficult to make enough of the stuff to
work with, it takes hundreds of gallons of blood to make enough to treat one
mouse, but now the results of a double blind study are in and they could not
be better. 10 mice with huge very advanced tumors were given injections of
the proteins and 10 were given injections of salt water. After two weeks all
10 mice who got the salt water were dead, all 10 mice who received the
proteins were alive and healthy, their tumors could not be found even with a
microscope. As for side effects, Dr. Folkman injected some mice with 4 times
as much as needed to shrink the largest tumor but he could find no ill
effects. There doesn't seem any chance that cancer will develop an immunity
to these 2 new drugs over time, tumors, bacteria and viruses can do that
because they have the ability to rapidly reshuffle their genetic makeup and
mutate, but these drugs don't work on any of those things, they works on
normal cells that supply tumors with nutriments, and normal cells don't
mutate like that.

No human has taken these protein drugs yet but that will change in just a few
months, genetic engineers have inserted the genes for their manufacture into
yeast and now we can brew it like beer and produce it by the ton. Until it
has been tried on humans however Judah Folkman refuses to say he has found a
cure for cancer, all he will say if that "if you have cancer and you are a
mouse we can take good care of you".

Dr. James Watson, the genius who co-discovered of the double helix and is one
of the true giants of this century thinks Dr. Folkman is being far too modest:

"Judah is going to cure cancer in two years [...] Dr. Folkman will be
remembered along with scientists like Darwin as somebody who permanently
altered civilization".

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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