Jan 29, 2019 / Robin Seaton Jefferson
It doesn’t seem possible. But they say it’s true. A small team of Israeli scientists is telling the world they will have the first “complete cure” for cancer within a year, The Jerusalem Post reported on Monday. And not only that, but they claim it will be brief, cheap and effective and will have no or minimal side-effects.
“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer,” said Dan Aridor, chairman of the board of Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), a company founded in 2000 in the ITEK incubator in the Kiryat Weizmann Science Park in Ness Ziona, Israel, just north of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. A development-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in discovery and development of therapeutic peptides, AEBi developed the SoAP platform, a combinatorial biology screening platform technology, which provides functional leads—agonist, antagonist, inhibitor, etc.—to very difficult targets.
Still skepticism was high among those in the know. Weighing in on behalf of the American Cancer Society (ACS) on his blog, “A Cure For Cancer? Not So Fast,” Len Lichtenfeld, MD, ACS chief medical officer cautioned: “…it goes without saying, we all share the aspirational hope that they are correct. Unfortunately, we must be aware that this is far from proven as an effective treatment for people with cancer, let alone a cure.”
Lichtenfeld went on to list several key points that he says must be kept in mind no matter what media reports say:
- This is a news report based on limited information provided by researchers and a company working on this technology. It apparently has not been published in the scientific literature where it would be subject to review, support and/or criticism from knowledgeable peers.
- My colleagues here at American Cancer Society tell me phage or peptide display techniques, while very powerful research tools for selecting high affinity binders, have had a difficult road as potential drugs. If this group is just beginning clinical trials, they may well have some difficult experiments ahead.
- This is based on a mouse experiment which is described as “exploratory.” It appears at this point there is not a well-established program of experiments which could better define how this works—and may not work—as it moves from the laboratory bench to the clinic.
- We all have hope that a cure for cancer can be found and found quickly. It is certainly possible this approach may be work. However, as experience has taught us so many times, the gap from a successful mouse experiment to effective, beneficial application of exciting laboratory concepts to helping cancer patients at the bedside is in fact a long and treacherous journey, filled with unforeseen and unanticipated obstacles.
- It will likely take some time to prove the benefit of this new approach to the treatment of cancer. And unfortunately–based on other similar claims of breakthrough technologies for the treatment of cancer–the odds are that it won’t be successful.
“Our hopes are always on the side of new breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We are living in an era where many exciting advances are impacting the care of patients with cancer,” Lichtenfeld went on. “We hope that this approach also bears fruit and is successful. At the same time, we must always offer a note of caution that the process to get this treatment from mouse to man is not always a simple and uncomplicated journey.”