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View Full Version : High School Student Might Have found a Cure for Cancer!



Blackhole
2012-Mar-03, 07:43 PM
This is truly remarkable:

http://wgrd.com/high-school-student-might-have-found-cure-for-cancer-video/

I love her approach to the problem, and it makes sense to me. However, I'm no scientist, so those of you who are perhaps more well versed on biology, does this concept make sense to you? This could be a massive breakthrough. Thoughts?

Van Rijn
2012-Mar-03, 08:19 PM
My first thought is "ho hum" - I've seen cancer cure claim stories since I was in High School (even before that, really). Sometimes there are new useful cancer treatments, but even then, there are many more stories than successful treatments. So I usually avoid cancer cure stories, and am usually annoyed with them, because they often strike me as irresponsible (nobody should claim a cure for something that affects much of the population unless and until it has been shown in independent blinded human trials to really be a cure).

Second thought was that it was a video, and I prefer reading an article. Easier to quote too. I found this:

http://zazenlife.com/2012/01/19/high-school-student-might-have-found-the-cure-for-cancer/


According to CBS, this is what Angela is working on:

“Angela’s idea was to mix cancer medicine in a polymer that would attach to nanoparticles — nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells and show up on an MRI. so doctors could see exactly where the tumors are. Then she thought [t]hat if you aimed an infrared light at the tumors to melt the polymer and release the medicine, thus killing the cancer cells while leaving healthy cells completely unharmed.”

(Note, there was an unfortunate typo in text that I corrected with the "t" in brackets.)

Anyway, I'm not an expert, but this sounds very much like an approach I've heard about for years. Perhaps she has some variation that is exceptional, but the article doesn't say. If it goes on to human trials, then we'll hear about it eventually.

publiusr
2012-Mar-03, 08:27 PM
here is hoping for the best.

Infinity Watcher
2012-Mar-04, 01:26 AM
I'm a bit out of contact with the medical research scene (and in any case I'm just a university student who hasn't even got their degree yet so what would I know) but this doesn't sound particularly new to me, like Van Rijin I've heard of similar things, the general concept has been around for years (it is after all simply an extension of the concept of delayed action medication) the knack is getting it to work.

In any case this isn't a description of a cure, it's a method of delivering a cure. I don't wish to do her down, she's probably smarter than me by several levels and she may well be on to something as a way of delivering chemotheraputic agents, without reading the research paper I couldn't say especially since journalists invariably seem to go out of their way to muck up healthcare reporting. Then of course there is the mandatory disclaimer for threads like these: there is in all probability never going to be "a" cure for cancer, since cancer isn't one disease, it's thousands of them, mesothelioma is a very different animal to say one of the Leukaemias with different cells, different causes etc.

It's great that she's managed to get this to work in vivo, but one mouse does not a statistically significant clinical trial make and a lot of things that work in mice fail to make the jump to humans (it's like the old joke that killing cancer cells in vitro isn't an achievement since you can do that with bleach, the knack is killing them without killing the patient)

So my opinion is: hopefully this will come to something and give us a new weapon against cancer (and as a cancer survivor myself I'm all for new tricks in the toolbox!) but it sounds like very early days so I won't be getting excited just yet

moog
2012-Mar-04, 01:51 AM
The problem is here:


...nanoparticles that would then attach to cancer cells...

You need some way for these particles to not attach to normal cells as well.
Nothing in the article seems to mention how that would be done.

Although it was so detail free Its hard to tell.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Mar-04, 09:40 AM
You need some way for these particles to not attach to normal cells as well.
Nothing in the article seems to mention how that would be done.

Although it was so detail free Its hard to tell.
I'm reminded of the report I read about another ingenious cancer cure, in that case it was a matter of "teaching" white blood cells to attack the cancerous cells, which worked very well.
Unfortunately they also attacked a group of healthy cells in the patient's lungs, which resulted in one very dead patient.


One advantage to her approach is that it's triggered by light, which means that the triggering is physically isolated, but I note that she's "melting" the polymer which makes me wonder of it's actually the medicine or simply the heat which is killing the cells.
And it'll be utterly useless for metastatic cancers.

Inclusa
2012-Mar-05, 04:20 AM
We probably shouldn't exaggerate great leap of treatments as cures.

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Mar-05, 04:00 PM
"Cancer" is a broad class of diseases with certain common characteristics. It seems unlikely that there is "a cure" for cancer, rather like it is unlikely that there is "a cure" for virus, or "a cure" for infection, or "a cure" for parasites.

In Britain it is actually illegal to claim to be able "cure cancer".

captain swoop
2012-Mar-06, 09:38 AM
"Cancer" is a broad class of diseases with certain common characteristics. It seems unlikely that there is "a cure" for cancer, rather like it is unlikely that there is "a cure" for virus, or "a cure" for infection, or "a cure" for parasites.

In Britain it is actually illegal to claim to be able "cure cancer".

Are you sure?

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Mar-06, 01:25 PM
Are you sure?
Completely.

In relation to cancer being a broad class of diseases, the first line of the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer says, "Cancer, known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a broad group of various diseases,..." I realise the limits of wikipedia as a source, but in this case it seems good enough.

In relation to the British legal situation, there is the Cancer Act 1939, which you can read here (it, or what's left of it, is very short): http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/2-3/13/contents
The important bit says:
"No person shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement containing an offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof"

Whilst this might look like a restriction merely on advertising, in effect it is very broad. Notice that it is specific to cancer - in general it is permitted to advertise medical services and medicines in Britain, provided that you can can adequately evidence any claims you make. But in relation to cancer, you cannot claim anything at all - you may not advertise its treatment in any way at all. This makes the enforcement against anyone offering any purported cancer cure, which it is what in practice it is mainly directed at, very easy for the authorities, as the ban is so broad.

It is interesting that this provision has survived more or less intact to this day, having been passed over 70 years ago.

profloater
2012-Mar-06, 01:31 PM
There is, or at least was ten years ago, a clinic an Ireland using an algae extract called platensis , taken orally, to attach to cancer cells which then fluoresce under laser light and, it is hoped by them, kills said cells when excited by far infra red which penetrates deep into flesh The first part seems to work. I had a friend who went there but he died of his cancer. The theory seems plausible, maybe it will get somewhere.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Mar-07, 08:11 AM
Completely.
<snip>
It is interesting that this provision has survived more or less intact to this day, having been passed over 70 years ago.
I wonder if that is handled sensibly enough that it is possible for hospitals to offer treatments to specific cancers, where the treatment has been documented to have efficacy.

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Mar-07, 10:38 AM
I wonder if that is handled sensibly enough that it is possible for hospitals to offer treatments to specific cancers, where the treatment has been documented to have efficacy.
I think it is handled sensibly. You do seem to be able to be treated for cancer in British hospitals, both publicly funded, and privately, and some people recover completely. Whilst Britain does fall somewhat short of the best clinical outcomes on the planet, we do realise this and have been taking steps to catch up. I have never heard anyone suggest that the Cancer Act 1939 is any impediment to that. The only time it ever gets mentioned is when some snake-oil seller is claiming to treat cancer.

Ivan Viehoff
2012-Mar-08, 12:09 PM
There is, or at least was ten years ago, a clinic an Ireland using an algae extract called platensis , taken orally, to attach to cancer cells which then fluoresce under laser light and, it is hoped by them, kills said cells when excited by far infra red which penetrates deep into flesh The first part seems to work. I had a friend who went there but he died of his cancer. The theory seems plausible, maybe it will get somewhere.
One of the big disappointments researchers have had time and again in trying to devise cancer therapies, at least for later stage cancers, is that they frequently discover methods that have some considerable success in killing off tumour cells, even whole tumours, but this only often achieves only a life extension for the patient of a few months or so. This is because the cancer often mutates and regrows in a novel form, often in numerous locations, that is much less amenable to known therapies. Also the patient is often weaker and less able to cope with further unpleasant therapies by this stage. The dead tumours require surgical removal to avoid life-threatening infection, and for longer survival the patient has to be well enough to cope with what can be major operations to remove them.

ExoZZ
2012-Mar-08, 04:24 PM
One of the big disappointments researchers have had time and again in trying to devise cancer therapies, at least for later stage cancers, is that they frequently discover methods that have some considerable success in killing off tumour cells, even whole tumours, but this only often achieves only a life extension for the patient of a few months or so.

To give some context for what it means to find a compound that can inhibit cancer cell growth you can can look at data provided by NCI (http://dtp.cancer.gov/docs/cancer/cancer_data.html). There is growth inhibition data for almost 50,000 compounds. Of these about 11,000 can cause at least 50% inhibition of growth of at least one tumor cell line at a concentration of 1 micromolar or less. Needless to say there are nowhere near 11,000 useful anticancer drugs. I really wish stories on cancer research would make it more clear that the ability to inhibit cancer cell growth in culture is not rare and a long, long way from demonstrating clinical utility.

BigDon
2012-Mar-08, 04:31 PM
So one of my best friends, O'l Wierd Bob, recently layed a stepson to rest after a long fight with sqamous cell carcinoma.

In his case he was treated, was declared cancer free, and went three years without seeing a doctor. Started feeling poorly again and the contrast test showed 120+ tumors larger than 2 cm spread through his mesentry. He was given a very short time. (Worse, his mom is a retired surgical nurse) Well he got included in three human trials and ecked another 18 months out.

Oddly enough, the one trail that brought him back from the brink, from heavy, he's obviousy catabolic, to merely looking slim was causing major cardiomyopathy in other patients taking only a quarter of the dosage he was on. (In his case the damage was merely delayed, according to the post mortem examination.)

Things I learned from this.

If your twin brother is dying of cancer, don't get popped a third time for DUI. The judge will be sympathetic and all, but you still spend your last moments together over the phone.

I've never been close to a cancer end-game before. The point of view of a certain former Chicago coroner becomes a little clearer to me.