A company made grand pronouncements about revolutionizing cancer treatment claiming their discovery is so disruptive that, according to its Chairman of the Board Dan Aridor, “We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer.” Expectedly, the news circled the globe dominating headlines, despite their having yet to save a mouse.
The grandeur continued with Aridor maintaining
“Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market… Our solution will be both generic and personal.”
That’s right, he is making these statements based on what The Jerusalem Post reports his CEO Dr. Ilan Morad said
“that so far, the company has concluded its first exploratory mice experiment, which inhibited human cancer cell growth and had no effect at all on healthy mice cells, in addition to several in-vitro trials. AEBi is on the cusp of beginning a round of clinical trials which could be completed within a few years and would make the treatment available in specific cases.” With Aridor adding “Our results are consistent and repeatable.”
Translation: The work done to this point has not been done in humans, just in cells in a petri dish and possibly in mice (but it is unclear). Making proclamations so big add up more to sales and marketing than anything else. That doesn’t mean their approach isn’t interesting or there isn’t any promise. Given the sparse details released on the subject and the lack of published scientific work that can be found, it is anyone’s guess at this point how disruptive this therapy will turn out to be.
We all want cancer cured in all its forms and who wouldn’t want to believe there is a one-size-fits all remedy with virtually no effects. But, hype cannot make up for the complexity of cancer and how it resists treatments and spreads.
What is most useful in this discussion is the thought of the mode of the attack by such new therapies
As we evolve our understanding of cancer, we expedite our learning curve when it comes to targeted therapies and personalized treatments. Think of traditional chemotherapy like a grenade that annihilates anything in its path, albeit a rapidly proliferating cancer cell or neighboring healthy cell. This is why people get often challenging side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, or weight loss.
With understanding and medical advance, we are learning more and more every day. A whole array of immunotherapies have entered the field whose main mechanisms of action are to spur a person’s immune system to fight the cancer cells. In a number of situations, this is leading to less of the negative side effects and allowing these illnesses to be managed as a chronic disease. The goal, in general, is to design a targeted bomb that avoids the person’s healthy cells.
One of the biggest challenges to curing some of the more aggressive cancers is that they contain a lot of and react to treatments with mutations. They defend themselves when attacked. In this case of Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), their approach is interesting in that it seems they desire to distract multiple receptors through simultaneous attack, like a multi-warhead missile, whereby the cancer doesn’t have a chance to mount a formidable response.
In the end
Curing all cancers in a year is highly improbable. They are so individually disparate in their genetic composition, capacity for mutation and individual host given such gender, tissue type and location variability that the notion of one cure is unimaginable. But, here is wishing them the best to do so while knowing that, more realistically, they may help progress our understanding of such a resilient group of diseases. And that is a win either way.
(1) For a greater understanding put into context, read "Cancer's Shifting Paradigm" here.
(2) I recently had the distinct pleasure of hosting the Independent Women’s Forum’s Working For Women podcast and interview preeminent cancer researcher and physician scientist Dr. Richard Pestell. In it, we speak about this shift in our understanding of cancer along with metastatic breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer, what is hopeful on the horizon, why he is excited about his current work and what obstacles are impeding progress in treatments. This is important because with such aggressive diseases especially there should not be any unnecessary lag time getting targeted therapeutics from lab bench to patient bedside (see here, scroll to bottom of accompanying article to listen to podcast).