JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Archives

Books

The good news medical revolution — this week’s cancer breakthroughs

The word revolution is overused and done to death. But in the case of medicine, we are in the midst of one. Here are three stories just out this week. It’s possibly none of these will end up being useful clinically, but the sheer volume of results like these mean that sooner or later getting a diagnoses of cancer will mean something very different. It’s time for good news stories. Let’s redirect the gravy train of pointless climate and renewables research. (Sell the ABC and use the money to double our medical research budget. How many lives might we change?*)

These are not instant miracles, but potential ones. The bladder cancer drug ultimately helped about a quarter of all patients. It was a small trial. Two patients of 68 appeared to reach the holy grail: to be tested free of cancer (though it doesn’t mean they are).  The second news report talks about a small study targeting a similar mechanism to stop melanoma that only helps about 30% of patients — the study successfully predicted which ones. In both cases the idea is to stop the cancer from hiding from the immune system. Some cancer cells produce molecules called PD-1 or PD-L1 (I don’t know if they are related) to trick the immune system into leaving them alone. The powerful thing about this is the offer of the holy grail for more people: if the immune system recognizes cancer cells as dangerous, even some late stage disseminated cancers could be cleared in a few months and with few of the side effects of the poisonous chemotherapy drugs. Our cellular soldiers can seek out and destroy the problem cells.

The third news story is an early stage “proof of concept” study. It shows that we can already identify cancer markers to an individual cancer (in mice) and make a vaccine to train the immune system to find it. It’s risky — if we vaccinate people against a marker which is also present on healthy cells we unleash an autoimmune disease. Theoretically with DNA tests we should be able to isolate specific tumor mutations that do not appear in healthy cells. It’s a question of cost. But cancer treatment is currently very expensive and costs of DNA analysis and vaccine creation have fallen dramatically in the last 20 years. Sooner or later this will probably be realistic — perhaps as the last resort for people with rarer cancers that don’t respond to other treatments, or who knows?

 

Treatment breakthrough for advanced bladder cancer

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have made a breakthrough in developing a new therapy for advanced bladder cancer — for which there have been no major treatment advances in the past 30 years.

Published today in Nature, the study examined an antibody (MPDL3280A) which blocks a protein (PD-L1) thought to help cancer cells evade immune detection.

In a phase one, multi-centre international clinical trial, 68 patients with advanced bladder cancer (who had failed all other standard treatments such as chemotherapy) received MPDL3280A, a cancer immunotherapy medicine being developed by Roche. In addition, patients were all tested for the protein PD-L1 and around 30 were identified as having PD-L1 positive tumours.

After six weeks of treatment, 43 per cent of PD-L1-positive patients found their tumour had shrunk. This rose to 52 per cent after 12 weeks of follow up. In two of these patients (7 per cent) radiological imaging found no evidence of the cancer at all following the treatment. Among PD-L1 negative patients, 11 percent responded positively to treatment too

Why patients respond to a life-saving melanoma drug

CLA researchers have pioneered a new methodology to predict why some patients battling advanced melanoma respond well or not at all to the new breakthrough drug pembrolizumab (Keytruda).

A protein known as PD-1 puts the immune system’s brakes on, preventing T cells from attacking cancer cells. Pembrolizumab removes the brake lines, freeing up the immune system to kill cancer cells.

“We’ve had amazing clinical success treating patients battling advanced melanoma with pembrolizumab. The challenge is that it only works in approximately 30 percent of patients with melanoma,” said Tumeh, lead author of the study and assistant professor of dermatology. “To address this challenge, we developed an approach that can select for patients that are likely to respond to this therapeutic class.”

 

 Vaccines may make war on cancer personal

In the near future, physicians may treat some cancer patients with personalized vaccines that spur their immune systems to attack malignant tumors. New research led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has brought the approach one step closer to reality.

Scientists at Washington University already are evaluating personalized cancer vaccines in patients with metastatic melanoma in a clinical trial led by Gerald Linette, MD, PhD, and Beatriz Carreno, PhD at Siteman Cancer Center. The researchers also are working to use the vaccines against breast, brain, lung, and head and neck cancers, and additional trials are anticipated in the next year or two.

In the new study, which appears Nov. 27 in an issue of Nature focused on cancer and the immune system, scientists tested investigational vaccines in computer simulations, cell cultures and animal models. The results showed that the vaccines could enable the immune system to destroy or drive into remission a significant number of tumors. For example, the vaccines cured nearly 90 percent of mice with an advanced form of muscle cancer.

Creating a personalized vaccine begins with samples of DNA from a patient’s tumor and normal tissue. Researchers sequence the DNA to identify mutant cancer genes that make versions of proteins found only in the tumor cells. Then they analyze those proteins to determine which are most likely to be recognized and attacked by T cells. Portions of these proteins are incorporated into a vaccine to be given to a patient.

 *I know true libertarians will say “sell the ABC” and give back the taxes — fair point. I’m being provocative. If the government stopped public broadcasting, and stopped funding medical research too while cutting taxes, we know some funds would be willingly philanthropically donated to medical research. Would this be as much, maybe not, would it be better directed, probably yes. Would research advance even faster — it might. But ultimately I want all three kinds of medical research competing — public funded, corporate profit seeking, and private philanthropy.

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.1/10 (62 votes cast)
The good news medical revolution -- this week's cancer breakthroughs, 9.1 out of 10 based on 62 ratings

Tiny Url for this post: http://tinyurl.com/mgpubcz

64 comments to The good news medical revolution — this week’s cancer breakthroughs

  • #
    Jock Strap

    Translation: “This drug will cost around $100,000 per patient. It will provide false hope and merely prolong suffering. At best patients will survive another 3-4 months on average. It won’t cure anybody.”

    ——————————–
    Another uninformed driveby Mr Jock, aka Bananabender. People have already been cured as best as we can test. Read the post.- Jo

    411

    • #
      Bobl

      Not very likely, vaccines are typically cheap and easy to make, if applicable they can be applied to healthy people as well, high volume makes them low cost eg Guardisil.

      Jo, there is a very promising vaccine under phase 3 trial for Prostate Cancer too called Prostvax.

      80

      • #
        Roy Hogue

        Unfortunately the process of making a vaccine unique to each different patient’s cancer, which is what’s being tried, will be more expensive. It can’t help but be more expensive.

        The vaccine that’s now being touted as a preventive measure against, if I remember the term, human papillomavirus, is really a vaccine against a specific virus known to cause the cancer. Otherwise it couldn’t prevent the cancer since when administered, you don’t yet have cancer.

        40

        • #
          KinkyKeith

          I think I got that Roy. :)

          KK

          20

        • #

          Think about what is involved in making the customized vaccine. The only expensive part is the information. How good are we at making information cheap? If we want it badly enough, we’re brilliant.

          25 years ago it was a whole PhD project to sequence DNA, now it’s done in machines while we sleep.

          Imagine your doctor said — you have cancer, you can do surgery, chemo and radiation and your survival rate is x% with fairly serious side effects, or you can spend $50,000 (or $100,000) for a customized treatment with a 98% success rate.

          Would there be a market in that? Would the price eventually fall to a few thousand?

          The elements needed to cure cancer are as common as dirt. There is no expensive material resource required, no massive energy source, the only thing that stands in our way is knowledge. We have the tools to manipulate those elements. Thinks Moore’s Law hits medicine…

          80

          • #
            Bobl

            Absolutely right Jo,

            This isn’t even as difficult as that, different vaccines targeting different marker proteins are produced. The only trick is to determine the protein markers expressed by the patients cancer cells (the particular mutations) via a biopsy or a blood test then give the patient the right vaccine. Prostvac for example as I understand it delivers a genetically altered pox virus strain (eg I assume something like cowpox, that was used to immunise against smallpox) altered to include PSA AND PSMA markers. In clearing up the virus infection the body ends up producing T-cells targetting both these markers, the side effect of that being that the body gains a 5 fold increased immune response to cancer cells. If nothing else I would speculate that circulating cells responsible for metastasis have a much lower probability of surviving long enough to cause any spread, if there were prolific anti cancer T-Cells in the blood stream. In effect the modified virus induces an autoimmune response against certain mutant cells an allergy almost.

            It is not like immunotherapy where the patients blood is externally sensitised and then the antibodies reintroduced. Sensitising for chemical markers using genetically altered viri is different and new. Where the cancer is sufficiently simple (few genetic variants) the vaccines could be combined such that a single vaccine could target multiple genetic variants of a cancer.

            This approach should not be expensive in the long term, any more than triple antigen or MMR, is. In some cases, like guardasil the vaccine may even become routine in order to prevent the mutations surviving in the first place assuming the marker targetted is sufficiently unique to cancer cells. (PSA is unfortunately not). Given the state of technology I can envision childhood anticancer immunisations very soon.

            10

          • #
            Bobl

            Pps, frankly the constant genetic mutation of FLU make it much harder a target than a stable set of cellular mutations (once the vaccine is developed). Have to say FLU vaccine isn’t that expensive.

            10

          • #
            Jock Strap

            Herre’s a far more sober view of the situation.

            http://www.newsweek.com/2014/03/28/getting-cancer-wrong-248029.html

            —-
            Which tells us almost nothing about the studies or techniques discussed in the post. The fact that chemo/radio is horrible and not that successful, and that cancers mutate and adapt only makes the type of work I wrote about even more important. The article mention two targeted therapies, Gleevec and Herceptin, that work. You are making my case for me. – Jo

            01

          • #
            Jaymez

            As a long term cancer patient I can respond with some authority on this matter:

            1. If I had to pay $50,000 – $100,000 for a cure with a 98% chance of success it would take less time to decide than I spend buying a coffee.

            2. If Private Health insurers could spend $50,000 – $100,000 to cure a patient’s cancer rather than continually paying tens of thousands a year per patient on scans, treatments, surgeries and if none of that works then incredibly expensive hospital and then palliative care, they would shell out the $50,000 – $100,000 pretty happily for a 98% success rate.

            3. In Australia at least, the Government picks up much of the tab for doctor’s visits, PBS medications, and specialist and hospital visits for public patients, more so if they are on welfare, which many long term cancer sufferers are. If the Government could pay $50,000 – $100,000 for a 98% successful cancer treatment for a public patient they would jump at it.

            4. There are already some cancer drugs in Australia which are not normally covered by the Government which cost over $100,000 for the few weeks treatment. They have proven life extending capabilities of 1.8 mths – 4 years depending on the patient’s age yet many choose to take it hoping they will be at the exceptional longevity end of the scale.

            5. The the $300,000 a year cystic fibrosis medicine Kalydeco, and the $500,000 a year treatment for atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), Soliris, are about to, (or have just been) listed on the PBS through the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Managed Entry Scheme, which provides provisional listing subject to proven performance. So cancer treatments at up to $100,000 with a 98% cure rate would not be an issue for Australia’s PBS. With the Managed Entry Scheme sponsors of the medicine would commit to reimbursing part or all of the cost of their drugs to the Government if they did not achieve the promised improvements in patient health.

            The Managed Entry Scheme had been in place since 2010 and is already being used to trial the melanoma treatment Yervoy, which costs more than $120,000 for a typical four dose treatment.

            20

    • #

      I suggest he is simply basing what he says on what he would do if he were working on a cancer drug. It is a matter of psychological projection in which the accuser has a character flaw he wishes to hide from himself so he pushes it outward onto his favorite targets.

      His hope is that the seriousness of the charge removes the necessity of having to present proof backing the charge. The target is to be presumed guilty with no proof possible or necessary. It is an attempt to steal the virtues of his victims and a pretense that they are his his.

      This is a standard ploy widely used in this post modern, post normal science, age of intellectual regression to that of war lords and witch doctors.

      90

      • #
        Jock Strap

        Rubbish. I was making a comment on Jo’s total lack of scepticism about medical research. She thinks TWO patients going into (temporary) remession during a short clinical trial is some sort of miracle. It could be nothing more than chance. An independent cancer researcher would probably consider the results to be meaningless.

        Mice get cured of cancer all the time. It is extremely rare for the same treatments to work effectively in humans.

        Medical research is just a much a gravy train as climate research. It promises unlimited benefits some time in the future to extort hundreds of billions per annum from the public. When the benefits don’t arrive the future is pushed forward another decade and more money is demanded for research. This has been going on since Paul Ehrlich made his “Magic bullet’ speech way back in 1906. The reality is that progress in curing diseases has been glacial. People are actually get less healthy in developed countries.

        Most of the senior medical researchers in Australia think the Medical Future Fund is a bloody stupid idea.

        12

        • #
          Bulldust

          Jo said nothing of the sort. You are wilfully lying to try and make a point. Try to understand words like small trial, appeared to be, and the qualifier doesn’t mean they are. Trolling score 1/10. The 1 is for enthusiasm.

          30

        • #
          Jaymez

          JS, Jo very clearly qualified the entire post in her first paragraph:

          “It’s possibly none of these will end up being useful clinically, but the sheer volume of results like these mean that sooner or later getting a diagnoses of cancer will mean something very different. It’s time for good news stories. Let’s redirect the gravy train of pointless climate and renewables research.”

          I think you are just being argumentative.

          20

    • #
      Jock Strap

      @Jo.

      The only person making uninformed claims is you. Nobody was cured. Two patinents (7%) in a preliminary Phase I trial went into (temporary) remission. This could be due to chance.

      It takes at least five years in remsiion for a pteint to be considered cured.

      @Bobl

      Gardisil is a vaccine to prevent designed to prevent herpes infections . It does not treat vcancer.

      03

      • #

        Jock, that’s what makes your comments so boring. You only read what you want to read. You blindly ignored all the caveats and paraphrase my remarks as the total opposite of what I wrote.
        I said:

        “These are not instant miracles, but potential ones.”

        “… helped about a quarter of all patients. It was a small trial. Two patients of 68 appeared to reach the holy grail: to be tested free of cancer (though it doesn’t mean they are)”

        “… a small study targeting a similar mechanism to stop melanoma that only helps about 30% of patients”

        It was …““proof of concept” study.

        You called that a “total lack of scepticism”. I call your commenting “a reading disability”. Perhaps you are my only reader who thinks proving a concept is the same as a late stage phase three clinical trial. I assume my other readers are smarter than that. I’m sorry, I don’t always cater to people whose confirmation bias creates reading problems.

        You are the one making the ambitious (God-like) predictions, not me, you said that “no one would be cured”, as in “ever”. In response to your inane comment I wrote that as far as we can know, two people are cured, which is 100% accurate and correct, (but an underestimate given the number of similar studies running). The fact that you don’t read carefully, and can’t prioritize your points so that you can tell the difference between saying something constructive, and dishing out one-liners which are obviously wrong is a reason for me not to bother publishing you. After 700 comments you are not improving.

        The point of the post that there is more upside potential to medical research than to renewables and climate models. People who can read got that message.

        30

      • #
        Mark D.

        Gardisil is a vaccine to prevent designed to prevent herpes infections

        .

        Wrong!

        Gardisil is a vaccine to prevent HPV caused cancer.

        HPV is NOT Herpes.

        Idiot.

        30

  • #

    It’s inevitable that we will find cures for all sorts of ailments known and thus yet unknown.
    The question is, will it happen in our life time or will we miss most of it like the poor buggers who missed the smallpox vaccine etc.

    I wish them a speedy success :)

    100

    • #

      That’s just it.If we pursue this as fast as we can and get it working in ten years instead of 20, there are a lot of lives at stake.

      130

      • #
        Heywood

        If only the government could levy a fee to see the doctor, say about $7, which could be used to contribute to a giant medical research fund to explore projects exactly like this one. We could call it a GP co-payment. We could advance our knowledge quite rapidly.

        If only.

        60

        • #
          edwina

          Yes, it’s frustrating that people, including doctors, will not accept the concept of a future $20 billion institute for medical research. It is only $70 maximum a year for pensioners. You see many pensioners buying Lotto tickets, scratchies and playing pokies. And how many times do ordinary folk visit a GP per year? Not too often. Also pensioners do pay much more for medications before the PBS scheme safety net cuts in for free medications. I bet people in future will moan that the “guvment” oughta do more for medical research!

          30

          • #
            Chesterdude

            Yes,

            But don’t knock our doctors and the AMA for backing the plight of the unemployed professional students and the odd drive-by troll because they are on Centrelink or disability whilst supporting the endless temptations of bulk billing.

            MD’s have new multi-tier practices to support, endless pathology and MRI scans to refer patients for… these services don’t pay commissions for themselves.

            Then there’s blocks of apartments, units and coastal investment portfolios, and of course the BMW and Porsche to drive to and from the private clinics.

            Geez, just think what would happen if the government introduced a co-payment.

            The old income would take a sudden nose dive and they’d have to divest.

            I’m with the doctors on this.

            Lets drive this sucker for as long as it lasts then jump off before it crashes.

            What, pay $7 for a doctor’s visit capped at $70 per year?

            Who can afford $7? Anyone got a spare ciggy, I just can’t enjoy a cold schooy without a ciggy and me missus forgot to buy me a couple a cartons this week. Bloody Missus. The fridge at home is empty too – it’s fulla food.

            Yeah, who cares what happens after the provision of medical services is no longer affordable for the average Aussie citizen.

            All that means is that everyone will go onto health insurance just like our American cousins – we can all enjoy Obamycare.

            No wonder the canuks are laughing.

            20

      • #
        Bobl

        Absolutely! This stuff is game changing.

        30

      • #
        Jock Strap

        The $20 billion medical future fund is less than the annual budget of the US National Institutes of Health. The MFF would only provide about $1 billion per year once fully operational. This is a small amount in the context of global research. Many senior members of the Australian medical research community don’t want it because it will deter donations and remove money from other critical areas of scientific research.

        00

        • #
          Chesterdude

          Jock, Comrade, Mate,

          Whilst I will agree with you on most things you give the AMA to much credit for altruism.

          It’s as simple as the Occam’s Razor Gang:

          $7 co-payment = loss of 3.5% AMA revenue
          therefore:- Fight Co-payment.

          Deregulate universities = loss of student body union support for Labor/Greens
          therefore:- fight deregulation of univerities.

          Stick with the comrades… comrade.

          Ah I remember ’78 – high unemployment – In the old AMWSU, there we were, shoulder to shoulder with Hawky, backs to the wall, fighting for the 38 hour week on the pretext that the extra 2 hours would be enough to employ more workers.

          When that failed there was the program to keep students in school to fudge the unemployment figures for another election or two.

          And we’re still doing that today comrade brothers and sisters, lets fight for the right of those that never want to get a job to get free education and then go onto disability to prop up the unemployment figures for the next glorious Labor 5 year plan.

          40

    • #
      Rereke Whakaaro

      Baa,

      When I went to school, two boys in my class had a withered arms, and one of those boys also had a profound limp, all due to Polio.

      That rate, 5%, was not unusual. It dropped practically to zero, a few years later, when all pre-school kids received a vaccine, delivered by mouth, in a lump of sugar.

      Even in the third world, polio is quite rare, today. And in those places where it is not, it is usually because the local warlord has been stealing the vaccine to sell on the black market.

      00

  • #
    TedL

    Prevention is far preferable to a cure. Rates of certain cancers appear to be rising, and the reason speculated is usually an increase in some environmental toxin in the food, water or air. But a much more fundamental cause may be Vitamin D deficiency, brought on by lack of exposure to sunlight. Several common cancers vary in occurrence by latitude, with much higher rates at high latitudes, suggesting that the cause is related to lack of sun exposure. Two common cancers that show this pattern are breast cancer and colorectal cancer. You can find more information at vitamindcouncil.org and vitamindsociety.org. For 30 years modern medicine has told us to avoid sun exposure, and we are now experiencing the consequences. Vitamin D deficiency disables the immune system.

    70

    • #
      Bobl

      This is true, many cancers are detected while investigating vitamin D deficiency, the scurrilous desmonisation of sun exposure is killing people and they still go on about it. Fact is that absorbing sunscreens by their method of action release DNA damaging free radicals far more than UV exposure does. You are probably better off scavenging up damaging free radicals with vitamin E cream than smearing yourself with free radical generating benzoates. The only sunscreens worth considering are refective (eg Zinc oxide) ones.

      30

    • #

      Ted, it’s true that low Vit D is associated with cancer (and asthma and a lot of other things), and there are studies suggesting that avoiding regular short doses of sunlight has cost more lives than it’s saved. The situation is a bit confounded though, cause and effect wise. Cancer cells may themselves reduce Vit D levels.

      But I certainly measure my D3 levels, supplement in winter and use mineral sunscreens.

      00

  • #
    Ralph Sir Edward

    We already have a theoretical cure for cancer “on the shelf”. Whether or not it get made actual is another question.

    Research was done several years ago concerning why cancer cells become resistant to various chemotherapies. The research found out that cancer resistance was due to genetic alteration (mutuation) of the cell membrane entryways (I’m being non-technical) that excluded the absorption of virtually all chemotherapies – simultaneously. that led to the next question, were there only a few mutations involved or hundreds? It turned out that in over 5,000 resistant samples, there were only 3 mutations that casused resistance – and one caused 85% or the resistant strains.

    Could the cell wall entryways be altered to let the chemo agents back in? In the test tube, there is a way to make simple “drugs” using RNA. They are call RNA “hairpins”. they are strictly a lab tool, they cannot be used in an animal body, because they get destroyed in an animal body in a matter of minutes. But they make a great lab prototype tools for research at the molecular level.

    So the researched make some RNA “hairpins” to alter the cell wall entryways of the mutated cancel cells. Once they found the ones that worked (to alter the cell wall entryways), a “cocktail” of the previously used chemotherapy (which the cancel cells were now resistant to) and the RNA “hairpin” were given to a culture of the cancer cells. The “cocktail” totally wiped out the cultures, while a second dose of chemotherapy to the control copy of the cancel cell culture had no effect. Think of it like the multi-drug “cocktail” used for AIDS treatment.

    Now whether or not any “Big Pharma” is actively working on making drugs that can mimic those RNA “hairpins”, and last in the body, is unknown. But that is a cure for cancer, and it is currently sitting on the shelf…

    20

  • #
    Roy Hogue

    Creating a personalized vaccine begins with samples of DNA from a patient’s tumor and normal tissue. Researchers sequence the DNA to identify mutant cancer genes that make versions of proteins found only in the tumor cells. Then they analyze those proteins to determine which are most likely to be recognized and attacked by T cells. Portions of these proteins are incorporated into a vaccine to be given to a patient.

    Cancer Treatment Centers of America, with 5 or 6 locations across the country, is currently advertizing this exact technique as the frontier of treatment for advanced stage cancers and cancer in general. They apparently have an enviable record of success already and seem very confident in this approach or they wouldn’t be advertising it the way they are.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to cancer nothing is certain about the outcome. Cancer is the devil’s own invention to deal with. But treatment has come a long way from when my father’s best friend and best man at his wedding had throat cancer and the only treatment was to try to surgically remove it. He didn’t survive his disease.

    20

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      Needless to say, I would rather have cancer now than have it back then.

      20

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      And Jock Strap (who calls himself that?) is no doubt right in one thing. It’s all expensive — a single day in a hospital is outrageous.

      We probably won’t be able to wait for him to have cancer to find out how his opinion changes. But I kinda wish we could.

      20

    • #
      Roy Hogue

      I suppose I should confess to having done some reading on the subject because for 3 or 4 years I’ve had a good Sci Fi plot in mind involving an NSA analyst, space aliens and this general technique applied more generally. My problem comes when I try to devise a good ending to the story because it invariably has to lead to, “And they lived happily ever after,” or an ending that negates the whole story or is a tragedy unimaginable. One ending is a children’s book. The other leaves me with no reason to write it. I’ve got the beginning and all the intrigue, including murder and fantastic technology in the middle but no ending. Nuts!

      There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. Of course I could make the aliens an enemy but that’s not the story I want to tell. It’s the danger of benevolent aliens that interests me. And no, they didn’t come to Earth just to be nice to us. They want, or rather need something and can’t get it and are even reluctant to make contact except for the situation they find themselves in.

      Any ghost writers around?

      10

      • #
        Yonniestone

        Roy have you seen the movie ‘World War Z’?, without giving an ending spoiler there is a scenario where like in the second trial above involves tricking the immune system into leaving them alone, also right from the start there is a public MSM broadcast of finding a genuine cure for cancer, in the book the movie was adapted from there is some great insight into the world of disease research.

        You probably know the author of the book Max Brooks (son of Mel Brooks) as a raving Democrat left winger (I’ve seen a couple of his interviews and hated his arrogant smugness) but to give credit where its due this is a great story well researched.

        10

        • #
          Roy Hogue

          Yonni,

          I’ve heard of the movie but didn’t see it.

          What I’m thinking of is an all behind the scenes thing where the few bad guys are undone by being exposed (that may not work) and in spite of a lot of potential for trouble the good guys, both alien and human come out winners or as much a winner as they can. Most of earth ends up being oblivious to the potential threat if I can pull it off.

          I don’t want to give a way the alien’s need or what they want to do about it, much less what they offer the hero as inducement to let them try it. In the meantime, corruption in high places tries to hijack the alien’s technology (which is on a scale larger than I’ve seen in science fiction) to take control of Earth (you can infer UN if you want to). Lots’ of details to weave in and out of the story. Introduce the problems or hint at them early then solve them near the end or as the story progresses.

          Don’t know if I could pull it off. But now that I’ve had the nerve to mention it I may try it and see what happens.

          10

          • #
            Alfred Alexander

            The bending for your story is “to be continued”

            00

            • #
              Alfred Alexander

              sorry ‘ending’

              00

            • #
              Roy Hogue

              TO BE CONTINUED

              Now why didn’t I think of that? I could make a famous trilogy out of it. I can see it coming up on the screen at the end of the first two epic box office block busters as I type, TO BE CONTINUED. But isn’t that a bit like dodging the whole issue?

              And here I am with so many details still to be filled in that I wonder if one decent volume will ever come of it. Do all writers start out this way? ;-)

              10

              • #
                Rereke Whakaaro

                You have got to be careful with trilogies. They have a habit (or is that hobbit?) of turning into two trilogies, or one story in six parts, and in the wrong order.

                00

  • #
    Richard

    After investigating the cancer issue for about a year (although my ‘investigation’ I admit has been rather superficial and I’ve not really delved into the issue deeply nor written anything down for future reference which I wish I had done) I’ve become more and more of the opinion (and I doubt it’s an opinion anyone on this forum will share) that cancer in most cases could be treated by giving your body the correct nutrition as evidenced by the extraordinary success of the Gerson Therapy. I think there are a lot of other better treatments out there rather than traditional chemo, the Gerson Therapy being just one (amazingly, there are even lots of people who have treated their cancer and had it regressed entirely by having insanely large dosages of Vitamin C injected intravenously and very high dosages of Vitamin C only selectively target the cancer cells and leave healthy ones be). I think two-time Noble Prize winner Linus Pauling was quite possibly on-the-ball when he said “You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment to a mineral deficiency”. But there’s no money to be made from curing cancer with nutrition, chemotherapy and radiation-therapy are still the best we can do, and they both stink. There was a 12-year meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looking at adult onset cancer and the study found that 97% of the time chemotherapy did not work in regressing metastatic cancers, although of course the official figures are a lot higher because the medical establishment’s definition of being treated of cancer is if the patent lives over 5 years after being diagnosed. So millions of people every year are being treated successfully of cancer while simultaneously dying.

    40

    • #
      Richard

      That should be ‘if the patient lives over 5 year’

      20

    • #
      gai

      Yes tell me about it.

      My Mom was one of the experimental Chemo patients back in the early 1970s. It was a classic the treatment was successful by the patient died.

      She died of heat failure due to the chemo but not of cancer.

      40

  • #
    David, UK

    “Sell the ABC and use the money to double our medical research budget. How many lives might we change?”

    Here’s a better idea: sell the ABC and let the taxpayer decide what to spend his money on. If he wants to spend it on cancer charities then great.

    50

    • #
      Bulldust

      The average taxpayer will decide to line his/her pockets. I trust this will come as no surprise to any skeptical reader. People, when operating within a large system, will look out for number one.

      00

  • #
    handjive

    Not advocating …

    Just offering ‘food for thought’ on the subject.

    Comments is where the discussion is:

    “The Pharmaceutical Journal, 19 NOV 2014 by David Nutt “The other massive growth area for cannabis treatment is in various cancers.
    Cannabis oil is now widely used as self-medication for people with cancers… the internet contains many personal and compelling testimonies of miraculous recoveries from a range of cancers treated with cannabis oil so there is real justification for more research in this field.”
    Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal, 22/29 November 2014, Vol 293, No 7837/8, online | URI: 20067185

    https://theconversation.com/hype-around-cannabis-as-a-treatment-for-cancer-is-undeserved-34326

    10

    • #
      Yonniestone

      Medicinal Cannabis, with the crime element aside, has always attracted this mystical idea of containing some undiscovered or long lost secret healing powers.

      That being said it’s well worth the time to conduct professional scientific (not post modern) research into it’s potential benefits to people suffering illness or pain.

      We just have to weed out the stoners from the scientists to make it worthwhile, now for the Caribbean University jokes……

      30

  • #
    handjive

    Though not about cancer, this link about health might interest some:

    THE STORY OF “SYBIL:” Another piece of “everybody knows” science that turned out to be crap.

    http://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000003250377/sybil-a-brilliant-hysteric.html

    12 minute video.

    (Via instapundit)

    10

  • #
    pat

    low oxygen, high carbon dioxide aspect of the animal discussed. begins around 21 mins, scroll down, click on Naked Mole Rat item, then start video:

    28 Nov: BBC Science in Action: Naked Mole Rat (approx 5 mins)
    Around 14 million people from around the world will suffer from cancer this year and with figures predicted to rise, scientists are looking into how they can improve current treatments. Researchers at the University of Cambridge are doing just that and this year, they set up a new programme to study an animal that is resistant to this prevalent disease – the Naked Mole Rat – and the BBC’s Kate Lamble went to the animal house in Cambridge to meet them face-to-face…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02cf0sd

    (the Naked Mole Rat is an MSM regular & has been studied by multiple research teams around the world for decades. as stated in BBC’s Science in Action, it could take another 15 years, even after they identify the target they want to hit, for any clinical benefits to emerge. multiple MSM articles linked in right column in next link. Rochester last year claiming they have identified the chemical behind cancer resistance!)

    June 2013: Uni of Rochester: Biologists Identify the Chemical Behind Cancer Resistance in Naked Mole Rats
    Their research paper is being published today in the journal Nature.
    The findings could eventually lead to new cancer treatments in people, said study authors Andrei Seluanov and Vera Gorbunova…
    http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=6572

    also on the BBC Science In Action program!!

    Air Pollution in Beijing
    China is the world’s second biggest economy – its rapid economic growth, fast urbanisation and expanding population have caused haze pollution in China’s cities to become more frequent and severe, with levels of fine particulate matter, or chemical air pollution, recently reaching unprecedented highs in many areas. A new report looks at this problem in Beijing by taking air samples over a long period of time. Misti Levy-Zamora from Texas A & M University in the US was involved in the research and explains what the team found in the city’s atmosphere.

    Preparing for Extreme Weather
    According to a new report released by the Royal Society, climate and demographic change like population growth and ageing will hugely increase the risk to people from extreme weather events. The report looks at human exposure to floods, heatwaves and droughts across the world and concludes that human populations need to become more resilient and prepared for these kinds of severe events in the future. Professor Georgina Mace, chair of the report’s working group, and Professor Peter Cox came to the BBC studios to discuss the findings of their report.

    50 Years of the IUCN Red List
    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List is now in its 50th year. The list assesses the conservation status of many species across the globe to promote their conservation and highlight extinction threats. It currently includes data on more than 75,000 species and the latest update to the list has just been released – Pacific Bluefin Tuna, Chinese Pufferfish, American Eel, Chinese Cobra and an Australian butterfly are the latest additions. Craig Hilton-Taylor is Head of the Red List Unit at the IUCN and talks to Science in Action about the importance of the IUCN’s work.

    10

  • #
    janama

    Unfortunately the Cancer Business is as corrupt as the climate business.

    I have a friend who was diagnosed with severe prostate cancer. He was diagnosed with a PSA reading of 9! (out of 10) The “cure” was to remove his genitalia plus a number of Lymph glands at a cost of over $30k.

    He then flew to NY and was diagnosed with a PSA of 5 by two separate clinics. He then flew to Germany where he was treated with Radio Wave therapy and after two 3 hour treatments was declared 90% cancer free. He still has all his parts and they are still in working order and he now lives in NY. The cost was $10k.

    His case was drawn to the attention of 60 Minutes who flew to NY and recorded a series of interviews. They were hot on the story. Then suddenly all contact with 60 mins ceased and the story was dropped. Apparently the medicos in Sydney didn’t want the story to air. They are making a fortune out of their current treatments.

    I have another friend who discovered a couple of suspicious moles on her hand. Each mole had a white tube that disappeared into her hand. She applied an illegal product from Mexico called Cansema and she took cannabis oil orally. Her hand turned black and she lost the use of it for a week. After a week the black peeled away and her hand has returned to normal leaving 7 wounds on the surface of her hand that have now cleared up with no scar. She had 7 melanomas in her hand.

    40

    • #
      gai

      Same thing with a rheumatoid arthritis treatment. My Doctor had rheumatoid arthritis to the point her hands looked like bird claws. Dr Daily had read about a treatment that arrested the disease and went up to Canada in the early 1960s to try it. She came back pain free. She tried to help the doctor who invented it to get it through the FDA. The government refused to even look at the information. She even went on the Joe Pyne TV show to drum up support to pressure the FDA in allowing testing of the treatment. I can remember the camera zooming in on her hands as she rapped them on the podium.

      It was all to no avail. Rheumatoid arthritis is too big a money maker so people continue to suffer despite a known medical treatment that stops the disease in its tracks. (Dr Daily have had the disease flare up again.)

      30

      • #
        Robert

        Exactly, why look for a cure when there is so much profit in the treatment. To anyone capable of critical thinking that should be obvious. But we know how that goes.

        Granted there are some in the medical field who are exceptions but in general doctors are in it for the money and prestige. But it is at the levels above the doctors where the real corruption takes place. Pharmaceutical companies don’t want a cure, they want you buying their proprietary drug for as long as possible. This entire issue gets me so angry.

        Then we get the alarmists who love to use their doctor analogies as though doctors are infallible, altruistic saints who would never lie to or mislead their patients and whose years of study make them immune to mistakes. It must be the white coat. I’m really beginning to think that the alarmists will take as undisputed fact anything they are told as long as the person telling them wears a white coat and has a bunch of letters after their name.

        Had I not developed a sense of ethics over the years I would be dancing in the streets as it is plain to see just how gullible and easily fleeced a group the alarmists are.

        10

  • #
    John F. Hultquist

    Hi Jo,
    I think you are right-on with the view to redirect funds toward medical research. I don’t have a cancer related story except to say it seems a bit rare in my family and folks die of other things.
    However, this Friday marks the 5th anniversary of a medical issue that nearly killed my spouse. We knew she would need a heart valve replacement and that was scheduled for March of 2010. But at 3 AM five years ago she had a blockage in an artery across the front of her heart. In clearing that, part of the procedure involved using an anticoagulant called Heparin, and this is usually given in unfractionated form (large variation in molecular weight).
    In a very small percentage of people there is an immunity reaction called Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). The day after the clot was removed and Heparin was used all her systems began shutting down. She was heavily sedated for 8 days and then brought out of it – but barely alive. The medical technology to keep here going was amazing. Look up intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP). When it became obvious that she needed a miracle they cut her open and fitted a (porcine) mitral valve replacement.
    Normally this procedure would have involved regular Heparin also, but knowing of her reaction to that they used a refined (low molecular weight fraction) version and took extra care and time. There’s more, but not for today. She is alive. That surprised many. Considering all, she is very well and entertains at nursing homes, playing old fiddle tunes with a group, every Thursday.
    The point is that medical technology can be miraculous but it can be very personalized. The HIT reaction of the extent she experienced is so rare they don’t test for it. Yet a simple and inexpensive test could have saved her much grief – not to mention the many many dollars paid by insurance.
    Did I mention it is Thanksgiving time in America?

    40

    • #

      So glad to hear it worked out. One of my best friends had twins placenta previ – blocking the exit. There was no possible way she could have delivered them naturally without dying. If she had been pregnant 40 years ago, before ultrasounds, likely all three would be dead. The cesarean saved the two girls, but even with a large team of top specialists in an Australian hospital, she almost didn’t make it.

      50

  • #
    michael hart

    I can’t actually find a reference to the full paper, but, taking it on trust for the moment, good marks to Linette and Carreno.

    The immune system already has all the tools it needs for killing cancer cells. It is the ability to find the right cells and make the correct decision about killing those cells that is the true wonder of the immune system. Linette and Carreno appear to have that at the front of their minds: Antigen specificity.

    A lot of other research just focuses on finding a ‘control knob’ in the immune system which is ‘set to 5′, and turning it up to 10.

    That may work in some circumstances, but there is usually a very good reason why it was set at 5 in the first place:

    Stepping on the immunological loud pedal can have nasty side effects, as happened with TGN1412. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGN1412
    That was an immuno-stimulatory intervention that was not antigen-specific. They just found a big red button and pressed it. Hard. Harder than they imagined.

    40

    • #

      Michael Hart — yes, completely, antigen specificity is the magic key. What we call medicine today is sometimes just bucket chemistry. Our immune system is so sophisticated at balancing the fine line between killing the enemy or killing us, we have barely begun to tap that power. It’s like commanding an army to “Go Kill. Kill now. Kill lots.”. No priority targets. No strategy. No teamwork.

      And re TGN1412. wow! Who would think it was safe to target such a basic antigen as the CD28? Who would think that lab animal testing would reveal if it was OK to use a human antigen? Those poor six test subjects. It seems like such an inherently dangerous approach. It could only take ng quantities to rejig someones immune system for life… no turning back. They were playing with fire.

      20

  • #
    edwina

    I read recently in a science magazine about 2 scientists who, years ago, tried to investigate the idea DNA mutations may be caused by quantum phenomenem. They abandoned this because it was hard and they were scoffed at. But now, they have learnt more and proven that DNA replication can sometimes be affected by hydrogen atoms ‘switching’ the wrong way between the ladder or rungs in the DNA. It’s comlicated but it may explain why ordinary cell replication can go astray causing cancer. It also challenges Darwin’s theory of evolution re’ the survival of the fittest. That’s another story. But the workings of quantum physics cannot be ignored at the molecular, atomic level of biochemistry.

    20

  • #
    Andrew McRae

    I sometimes see descriptions of cancer patients having injection tubes implanted into their chest (“chemo ports”) because the chemicals are so nasty that the coronary artery is the only vessel strong enough to take them.
    I have just one question. Is chemotherapy a crude carpet-bombing method that’s almost as likely to kill you as cancer itself?
    Because that’s what it looks like.

    40

  • #
    D o u g  C o t t o n

    This is not to be taken as medical advice, but I chew apricot kernels which are thought to prevent and maybe cure cancer. Only a few (perhaps no more than 10 no more than each 6 hours should be taken with fruit juice before meals. Maybe we should also eat a few apricots (tinned or dried) beforehand. At other times avoid sugar and minimise carbohydrates. I’ll leave it to readers to decide – perhaps reading http://apricotseeds.com.au/

    00

    • #
      Annie

      I was under the impression that it was the kernel of the Hunza apricot that was particularly efficacious? Is it the laetrile in it that is supposed to help?

      10

      • #
        Richard

        Laetrile is basically a modified and more potent version of Vitiman B17 that people with cancer inject. Specifically what makes B17 so effective at fighting cancer is that unlike normal healthy cells cancer cells are deficient in the enzyme rhodanese which effectively break down and neutralizes the cyanide within B17 so when B17 comes into contact with a cancer cell rather than being broken down as it would normally it would it combines with beta-gucosidase instead and both of these together are toxic to cell and destroy it. Interestingly the Hunza people have a diet that consists of apricot seeds and apparently there has never been one recorded case of cancer. Edward Griffin has a good documentary about B17 that you can watch on YouTube and it explains how the medical establishment has been politically subverted for many decades and how vastly superiour natural treatments for cancer like B17 have been consistently overlooked and ignored because they could not be patented and their practitioners labelled “quacks” just how CAGW-skeptics today are inappropriately labelled “deniers” and derided in a similar way.

        10

  • #

    Just to be the devil’s advocate, I have been reading about ‘miracle cures that will hit the market in just a few years’ for as long as I can remember. Sure, there are new developments coming through all the time, but a lot of the promises are just hype from drug companies looking for a bit of free publicity or from researchers looking to shore up their grant money.

    When government spends money on research, or anything else, it is mostly wasted, and the fact that it is government money tends to corrupt the output. The Australian Research Council demonstrates this perfectly. Go back to the digital boom in the early nineties when government wasted a small fortune on multimedia in a failed effort (unsurprisingly) to ‘put Australia at the forefront of the industry’. All the spivs came out from under their rocks and applied for grants to produce ‘fashionable’ multimedia content about multiculturalism and so on. And of course, look at all the third rate rubbish arts funding produces in Australia, not to mention all the welfare recipients that government sports funding produces.

    And that’s why the Abbott (for how long?) government’s medical research fund is so utterly absurd. The bureaucrats who will be doling out the money will give it to every spiv who comes along with a fashionably Left cause to research.

    10

    • #
      JohnB

      I was thinking the same thing Barry. We seem to get a spate of “possible future cures” every 10 years or so. The most common description that gets in is “Silver Bullet” but “Holy Grail” is gaining in popularity. It’s been a while since the last one and funds have been going heavily to climate science, maybe the medicos think they have a shot with the old “We’re almost there, just a fund us for a few more years…..”

      People can call me cynical, but I’ve seen way too many of these “We think a cure might be just around the corner” announcements to give any credence to them any more. After seeing these types of “If we can just…” releases for over three decades and having not one come to fruition, sorry but I don’t believe in if any more. What makes it worse is that there are so many good, well trained and dedicated people devoting their lives to finding a cure and they have to play these silly games or the funding dries up.

      00

  • #
    lemiere jacques

    bad news for climate. as a good human is a dead one.

    00