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Cancer Drug Found; Scientist Annoyed 349

Posted by kdawson
from the serendipity dept.
sporkme writes "A scientist was frustrated when the compound she was working with (called PPAR-gamma) destroyed her sample of cancer cells. Further research revealed that the substance was surprisingly well suited as a cancer treatment. Lab test results on mice resulted in the destruction of colon tumors without making the mice sick." Quoting: "'I made a calculation error and used a lot more than I should have. And my cells died,' Schaefer said. A colleague overheard her complaining. 'The co-author on my paper said, "Did I hear you say you killed some cancer?" I said "Oh," and took a closer look.' ... [They found that the compound killed] 'pretty much every epithelial tumor cell lines we have seen.'" Update: 02/15 17:27 GMT by KD : As reader CorporalKlinger pointed out, PPAR-gamma is a cellular receptor, not a compound; and this news is not particularly new.
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Cancer Drug Found; Scientist Annoyed

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  • by Gabrill (556503) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:44PM (#18025186)
    Best Headline ever!
    • by Phisbut (761268) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @02:00PM (#18026450)
      I saw this quote somewhere :

      The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny ..."

      It applies quite well here.

    • by iamacat (583406) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @02:59PM (#18027304)
      The scientist is still annoyed, because the compound is already patented, and thus will not be profitable as a cancer drug. Therefore, they will work on making another, possibly more toxic or less effective, formula rather than pushing for a human trial.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by StikyPad (445176)
        Therefore, they will work on making another, possibly more toxic or less effective, formula rather than pushing for a human trial.

        Or possibly less toxic or more effective. The argument is not that they have to keep working -- they should do that anyway -- but rather that unused patents should be revoked.
      • by nanoakron (234907) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @09:11PM (#18033272)
        Where the fuck do you get your cynicism from?

        Yeah, that's right - all cancer researchers are only out for a quick buck and fuck every possible cure that gets in their way.

        Yeah, cancer researchers are holding back the true cures until we pay them enough.

        Yeah, cancer research laboratories don't employ people suffering from cancer themselves. It's only the lay public that suffer from cancer, not scientists and stuff.

        You fucking retard.
        • Yeah that's right - all cancer researchers are only out for the good of the human race and even if they have to starve themselves and live in personal poverty it's cool because they're doing something more important than pleasing the shareholders of the drug company they volunteer their time to.

          Yeah, cancer researchers will do anything they can to get a drug to the people who need it. They usually give it away at cost to save peoples lives right?

          Yeah, cancer researchers only employ people who have a vested
  • Moo (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chacham (981) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:44PM (#18025192) Homepage Journal
    Cancer Drug Found; Scientist Annoyed

    Um, no. The "Scientist Annoyed" came first. Indeed, had she not been annoyed she it may not have been brought to her attention that she suceeded.

    A scientist was frustrated

    And stop saying scientist. She is a researcher. The articles calls her a researcher. I'll bet she will even call herself a researcher. And, she is relevant because she was researching.
    • by Gabrill (556503)
      Forgive my ignorance, but what's the difference? If it's the source of his or her funds, I'm going to be severely disappointed.
      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Informative)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:01PM (#18025542) Journal
        I would consider myself a scientist, because I am interested in and conversant with science and the scientific method...In my case mainly physics, with a solid grounding in inorganic chemistry and biology.

        I am not, however, a researcher specializing in one aspect of scientific inquiry.

        It's becoming an important distinction these days because so many "scientists" who are no better qualified than I am, are none-the-less using their status as "scientist" to question the results put out by scientists with in-depth knowledge backed by significant practical experience in the study of their specialty (e.g. a researcher).
        • by TobascoKid (82629) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:11PM (#18025700) Homepage
          Seeing as the move to get people to call crackers crackers and not hackers never worked, I really doubt trying to get people call researchers researchers is every going to take off, especially as all researchers are, by definition, scientists anyway.

          Anyway, why will changing the name stop ill-qualified challenges? One researcher in one branch of science could still challenge another researcher in another branch.
          • by Bloke down the pub (861787) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:22PM (#18025876)

            all researchers are, by definition, scientists anyway.
            Great news - I'm researching ancient Greek, but I always wanted to be a scientist really.
            • by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:38PM (#18026110)
              This had bothered me since 8th grade English class when I was told that we were going to do research, and I envisioned white lab coats and studying things that had never been done/seen before. What a letdown it was when the teacher told us we were going to spend our time in the library studying what other people had done. Let's put the "re" back into research. What you are doing is true research, what scientists do is original search. (ok, they have to do a lot of research first to see what's already been done before they start to do the original stuff)
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by soft_guy (534437)
          Right. So you are trying to promote "researcher" as a more elite term than "scientist" where in the general publics' mind it going to be like "Oh, he's not a scientist - he is merely a researcher."
      • Re:Moo (Score:5, Informative)

        by mikael (484) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:06PM (#18025622)
        The seniority system goes something like this:

        research director
        scientist
        research assistant/researcher

        The research director can approve projects for research.
        The scientist can propose projects for research - also supervise the project
        The research assistant/research carries out the work required to complete the project
      • Re:Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Zugok (17194) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @03:59PM (#18028536)
        Scientist is a discipline of thinking, researcher is role. I would think the correct title would be scientific researcher.

        Debate and flame.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Informative)

      by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:49PM (#18025284) Journal
      uhh, you know that a researcher is a scientist right? Last I checked, scientists researched things to figure out how they worked... and researchers did the same damn thing. The Ph.D. if you think that is a requirement, is not.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      And stop saying scientist. She is a researcher. The articles calls her a researcher. I'll bet she will even call herself a researcher. And, she is relevant because she was researching.

      Yes, and that research was relevant because it was part of science... [Origin [reference.com]: 1300-50; ME

      By the way, I'm a scientist too. I use the scientific method, and my "faith" (if you can call it that, and I think you can) is in science. But wait, I am employed as a Graphic Artist! Holy shit, I guess you can't call me a scientist ei

      • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['o.c' in gap]> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:26PM (#18025932) Journal
        Jimmy: Uhh, Mr. McClure, I have a crazy friend who thinks it's wrong to call yourself a scientist if you don't have a sciencey type degree. Is he crazy?
        Troy: Nooooo, just ignorant. You see, your crazy friend never heard of "The Scientific Method." Just ask this scientician.
        Scientician: Uhhhh...
        Troy: He'll tell you that anyone who makes observations, creates theories based on them, tests the predicitons of those theories, and modifies the theories based on the tests is a scientist. Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If that scientician ever got the chance, he'd study you and everyone you care about.
    • Re:Moo (Score:5, Funny)

      by Heem (448667) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:04PM (#18025598) Homepage Journal
      at least they did not say Scientologist.
  • Homeresque (Score:5, Funny)

    by commisaro (1007549) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:45PM (#18025210) Homepage
    "To pull a Homer": To succeed despite idiocy
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:45PM (#18025212) Homepage Journal
    You can tell she is a true nerd because instead of saying "holy shit I cured cancer" she said "god damn it, now I have to start over."
    • Yeah, you gotta love candor like that. Admitting she did't immediately see the signigance of her miscalculation is priceless--human.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:43PM (#18026194) Homepage
      Well, 99% of the time that'd be true. We know of plenty things that kills cancer, because it kills cells altogether and you can probably think of a dozen off the top of your head. The discovery isn't "damn, my cancer cells died" it's "wtf, the other cells are still alive".
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        Well, sure, just like dishwashing detergent kills HIV. It just also happens to kill the host if you take it intravenously. I just don't bother to involve the obvious and mundane in my comments if I can avoid it, because, well, it's obvious and mundane. This is news for nerds, right? I'm a nerd and I produce comments meant for other nerds of similar proclivity.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Chris Burke (6130)
          Well, sure, just like dishwashing detergent kills HIV.

          YES! Finally the answer to my prayers!

          It just also happens to kill the host if you take it intravenously.

          Shit! I need to read faster! Call 911 for me...
  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:45PM (#18025216) Homepage Journal
    if the creator of Viagra had a similar epiphany
    • by EXMSFT (935404)
      Indeed. He thought he had failed, but continued his research with a stiff upper lip.
      • by ettlz (639203)
        No, his wife had the stiff upper lip. Later, he got round to wondering what the hell he thought was doing in the first place.
    • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:02PM (#18025568) Journal
      Actually Viagra was invented to treat angina, at which it was a spectacular failure. The better-known use of Viagra was actually a side-effect that appeared in (if I remember) 80% of test subjects. So even Viagra was a sort of accident.
      • by vorpal22 (114901) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:28PM (#18025966) Homepage Journal
        Even more strange, but along the same lines, is the new and coming drug, Bremelanotide [wikipedia.org]. It was created with the intention of being an artificial tanning agent, at which it succeeded, but a large number of the test subjects, both male and female, reported highly increased sexual arousal during the tests.

        It's fairly far along in clinical trials and seems very promising, making it the first recognized effective pharmaceutical aphrodisiac.
        • by dr_dank (472072) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @02:56PM (#18027274) Homepage Journal
          It was created with the intention of being an artificial tanning agent, at which it succeeded, but a large number of the test subjects, both male and female, reported highly increased sexual arousal during the tests.

          It's a cruel joke when you look like an overgrown carrot and have a raging boner.
        • I don't know whether to laugh at your comment or cry. On one hand, I laugh because we "accidentally" discover things all the time and this is a good thing. Then I realize we were trying to make an artifical tanning agent --- and I cry.

          Seriously, is ALL pharmaceutical research on tanning, boners, and other non-life threatening shit? How about we tackle the stuff the KILLS PEOPLE first, huh? (Nah, there's too much money in the other stuff...)

          Truly, a sad statement on affairs, if I've ever see
          • by mlyle (148697) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @06:30PM (#18031134)
            The tanning agents are being researched because they have the possibility of preventing a heck of a lot of cases of skin cancer-- by protecting people against the sun BEFORE damage occurs. Also, people might go outside to tan themselves less with an alternative.

            (But even if you're going to the beach, there's a benefit and prevented skin damage by taking this first, other than your boner showing through your swim trunks).

            So, it's not quite so silly, eh?
      • by false_cause (1013577) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:41PM (#18026150)
        They missed one 'gina but hit millions of others.
    • Yes. As I understand it, the drug was originally developed to increase blood flow to the heart. It missed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Atrox666 (957601)
      The inventor of LSD also had an epiphany like that ..then things started to melt.
  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:46PM (#18025224) Journal
    "Damn it! Who let the bacteria colonies get moldy? All of my staphylococcus samples died and now I have to start all over again."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Actually, Flemming's contribution was not that he saw something. Several other scientists - even back in the 1800s - had observed that one form of microbe killed off another. Flemming was apparently the first one to realize what this meant, and to follow through on it. He is more a parallel of the researcher's colleague than of the researcher in TFA.
  • by Trails (629752) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:46PM (#18025234)
    "Most important discoveries are not accompanied with a 'Eureka!', rather with a 'Hmmm, that's odd....'"
    • by StressGuy (472374) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:51PM (#18025350)
      that and "hey y'all, watch this!"
    • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:52PM (#18025370) Homepage
      It's an Isaac Asimov saying, as far as I know (though I haven't seen a primary source). "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discovery, is not 'Eureka' (I found it!), but 'That's funny...'"
    • by g2devi (898503) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:22PM (#18025864)
      "Dr. Plunkett was under contract with the DuPont Company and was doing research on methods of creating non-toxic refrigerants that would have very specialized uses; however, upon beginning his original experiment he realized that he had a problem . When he went to open the tank of gaseous tetrafluoroethylene, no gas came out of the cylinder; instead the only thing that came from this was a great curiosity . What perplexed Plunkett was that the weight of the tank indicated that there should be a given amount of the fluorocarbon present in the tank, and that it simply hadn't leaked out. This puzzled Plunkett and caused him to investigate what was actually still in the "empty" tank; however, it was not until he sawed the tank open that he realized what had taken place. Inside the tank he found a white, waxy powder and concluded that these individual gas molecules had bonded together to form this incredible solid, teflon, that had some very promising chemical properties."

      Source: http://users.wfu.edu/starbt5/Serendipity%20Project /website/Serendipity.htm [wfu.edu]
      • Heard a variant of that from a teaching fellow. In that version it wasn't quite so straightforward:

        F4C2 is horribly toxic. They had a big tank of this compressed gas and had set up the wall of glassware (with great care) for some experiment. They hooked it up, opened the valve, and nothing came out. (Yet the weight, as above, indicated that the tank WAS still full.)

        The concern was that the valve was clogged, and that the tank still contained the poisonous gas under high pressure. So any attempt to open
  • Typical science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimstapleton (999106) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:47PM (#18025240) Journal
    for all the logic and deductive reasoning they use, it ends up being pure chance and blind luck that gives us some of the best discoveries.

    And how many problems could have been solved by now, if instead of someone saying "Hey, this isn't doing what I wanted it to do!" instead they said "Wow, not doing what I wanted it to do, but this effect is pretty darn useful too!"

    • by EXMSFT (935404)
      My mom always said (Forrest Gump inferrence somewhat intended), "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade". It's true. This is actually how the microwave oven was born, as well as many other inventions.
    • Don't Be Daft (Score:5, Informative)

      by Petersko (564140) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:02PM (#18025562)
      "for all the logic and deductive reasoning they use, it ends up being pure chance and blind luck that gives us some of the best discoveries."

      Oh please. You make it sound like the researcher was walking down the street one day with a dish of cancer and somebody bumped into her with the right chemicals. Like it was the scientific equivalent of "You got chocolate in my peanut butter!"

      The decades of previous work, including her education and work experience, worked steadily towards her being a cancer researcher who was following a logical chain that brought cancer cells and compound together for the discovery. If any of it was blind luck it was perhaps a tiny little sliver at the end. Really not even that was luck. After all, even though the results were unexpected, clearly she was on the track to something. No luck required.

      I think it's insulting to her dismiss the roles that logic and deductive reasoning played in arranging these circumstances.
      • As others have pointed out, she wasn't doing cancer research. However, I would point out that whatever she WAS doing, she was working with cancerous cells.

        Regardless, I maintain it was much less luck than determined methodology that brought this forward. A fortunate event happened at the tip of decades of buildup.
      • She was lucky (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WrongDecision (803195)
        Agreed. She was lucky. "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity" -somebody intelligent said that, damned if I know who.
      • "for all the logic and deductive reasoning they use, it ends up being pure chance and blind luck that gives us some of the best discoveries." ...You make it sound like the researcher was walking down the street one day with a dish of cancer and somebody bumped into her with the right chemicals. ...

        The decades of previous work, including her education and work experience, worked steadily towards her being a cancer researcher who was following a logical chain that brought cancer cells and compound together fo
  • by Grendel Drago (41496) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:49PM (#18025278) Homepage
    How odd; I was all ready to yell "DUPE!", but this isn't yet another DCA story. So, for this one, we have that it kills human tumors in vitro, and mouse tumors in vivo. We don't know if it's safe to give to humans. (Maybe we do; I haven't pulled the research paper yet.) Ah, well. Here's a picture of the molecule if anyone wants it. [wikipedia.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:49PM (#18025294)
    "I misheard you. Sure, I've been able to do that for years. Here you go."
  • Reuter's science writer should get the credentials revoked. Gawd, I wish I never RTFA'd the article.

    "She was testing a compound called a PPAR-gamma modulator. It would never normally have been thought of as a cancer drug, or in fact a drug of any kind."

    PPARg modulators are huge drugs, some of the most highly perscribed therapeutics for type II diabetes.

    "Most of the drugs like Taxol affect the ability of tubulin to forms into microtubules. This doesn't do that -- it causes the tubulin itself to disappear. We
    • by Retric (704075) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:58PM (#18025498)
      RTFA again "It also killed colon tumors in mice without making the mice sick, they reported in the journal International Cancer Research."
      • So headline should have been, "Cancer cured for 10th time this decade...In mice."

        This is cool and all, and very interesting, but I've seen a lot of cool and interesting stuff that works great in mice that's fallen flat in human testing. Maybe this will be the one that finally does it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by kalirion (728907)
          The solution is quite simple. Develop a retro-virus which turns humans into mice, cure the cancer, and then work on turning the healthy mice human again.
    • Can you please calm down a bit and realise that even if the article is wrong, this is still potentially valuable if the scientists believe it?
    • by xtracto (837672) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:11PM (#18025706) Journal
      You should read TFA, no, not the one linked there but the one published by the researcher. it is available here [wiley.com]. Of course you can only enter if you have a subscription OR your university has access to it. Mine has, and I took the time to take a look to the article :

      "PPAR Y inhibitors reduce tubulin protein levels by a PPAR, PPAR and proteasome-independent mechanism, resulting in cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and reduced metastasis of colorectal carcinoma cells"

      Measurement of metastasis in vivo

      Male severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice, 6 weeks of age, were maintained in a specific pathogen-free environment. Experiments were performed according to the guidelines of Yokohama City University. At day 0, 2 106 HT-29 cells were injected into the spleen. After inoculation, the mice were randomized into 2 treatment groups (each with n = 6) and 1 control group (n = 6). Starting at day 1 and daily thereafter, T0070907 (1 or 5 mg/kg/day) or control (1% DMSO vehicle) was administered orally. These concentrations were chosen based on initial pilot experiments to detect morbidity based on T0070907 alone. At 1 or 5 mg/kg/day, no increased morbidity (based on grooming, activity and food intake) was noted in mice with or without injected tumor cells. Four weeks later, the number and size of metastatic lesions in the liver were determined. Tumor volume was calculated as previously described.
      and in the conclussion:

      hese results demonstrate that treating CRC cell lines with high doses of PPAR inhibitors leads to disruption of microtubule function, alterations in cell morphology, cell migration, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. In addition, definitive antitumor effects are seen in vivo, after oral administration in a CRC mouse model.
      So yeah, they tested in mice and yeah it looks promising. Of course it might not be as "newsworthy" as media wants to make it look. Hundreds of similar articles can be obtained via scoups.com any day :)
  • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:51PM (#18025342)
    It might be wise for whomever posted this to read the article more completely before publishing. PPAR-gamma is a receptor found within/on cells, NOT a separate "magic compound." This is old news, anyway - PPAR-gamma's effects with respect to cancer have been well understood for months now.

    Source:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=g ene&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=Graphics&list_uids=5468 [nih.gov]

    Notice how it says "implicated in cancer"? That information has been there for quite some time. Time for people to stop posting this antiquated junk as "new news."
  • From TFA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:51PM (#18025356) Homepage
    As the compound is already patented, her team will probably have to design something slightly different to be able to patent it as a new drug.

    FTW. I found a cure for cancer, sorry patented. And for AIDS too, sorry patented. I found a cure for all sickness and death, sorry patented.
  • by rbarreira (836272) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:51PM (#18025360) Homepage
    Further investigation later revealed that the substance she had been using was in fact sulfuric acid...
  • by Buddy_DoQ (922706) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:53PM (#18025396) Homepage
    This happens to me quite often, I will dig into a project trying to solve some major issue or another (Wi-Fi's down again!) and hours later I've solved it. The problem is I've already forgotten the original issue and found three others that are really quite trivial. Sometimes I look up and notice, sometimes I just keep working away, creating new issues and solutions with complete disregard for the original major issue. It's like my focus becomes so narrow, that I can't see the bigger picture without someone else stepping in.

    This is where a good project manager should step in. "You do realize you've been painting the same tiny bit of trim for the past three hours, right?"
  • Something about not seeing the forest with all these damn trees in the way comes to mind...
  • PPARs have been under investigation for a variety of ailments for some time by pharma companies (specifically, diabetes; some of these drugs were recalled from the market). Whether or not this discovery will translate into an actual effective drug is not even remotely close to being established.


    Seems like every week we get one of these "cure for cancer" stories. It's great that the research is ongoing, but the breathless headlines are premature.

  • There is supposed to be a kaboom! or some bells ringing or something... Finally, a cure for cancer and the reaction seems just a little too ho-hum.

    Shouldn't someone be shouting holyfsck and doing back flips up and down the halls of the AMA?

    Maybe we're just shell shocked, or quietly waiting for the sticker shock?
  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:56PM (#18025452)
    "Schaefer's team plans more safety tests in mice. As the compound is already patented, her team will probably have to design something slightly different to be able to patent it as a new drug."

    Another plus for having a "Great" patent system.
    You have cancer? Go to China or India.
    After a few years of people doing this,
    China and India will be as rich as the USA was 5 years ago.
    (Today, the USA is actually poorer!)
    • Another plus for having a "Great" patent system. You have cancer? Go to China or India. After a few years of people doing this, China and India will be as rich as the USA was 5 years ago.

      Amen! By the same token, I think that if you're an individual valuable to business or scientific progress living in the US, and you don't like to see what the US is doing with its power, you have a responsibility to either enter politics, or leave the country.

      Otherwise you're just lending your power to the country wit

  • We need a new meme (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paiute (550198) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @12:57PM (#18025474)
    For the love of RB Woodward's wine-guzzling ghost, I am sick of stories about compound X and how it is the next big thing and how it kills cancer cells stone dead in a Petri dish.

    Every other compound you can order from Aldrich will kill cancer cells in vitro. So will a ball peen hammer. Drano, playground sand, double-acting baking powder. Pledge will kill them and leave a lemony-fresh scent.

    When this compound gets to stage III clinical trials and does not leave a trail of bodies and does show some efficacy, then you can post the story.

    Until then, Netcraft confirms it. These cancer cells are dying.
    In the Soviet Union, cancer cells kill new drugs.
    etc
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814)
      For the love of RB Woodward's wine-guzzling ghost, I am sick of stories about compound X and how it is the next big thing and how it kills cancer cells stone dead in a Petri dish.

      Furthermore, most cancers in mice can be cured with the biochemical equivalent of a dirty look.

      Humans are exceptionally long-lived for mammals. The average mammal lives about a billion of its own heartbeats. Humans live two billion. this massively delayed senescence is due in part to effective tumour-supressor genes. From an ev
  • Funding cut (Score:4, Funny)

    by plopez (54068) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:02PM (#18025566) Journal
    Watch her grants get cut since she is reporting a result she didn't write into the grant application.
  • penicillin was found the same way... contamination on the sample cells. instead of washing up, fleming looked further.

    this probably means the coffee cups in cubicles will be allowed to grow another couple inches of fur, but to the delight of kid hackers everywhere... don't wash up.
  • Patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:04PM (#18025584)
    From the article: "As the compound is already patented, her team will probably have to design something slightly different to be able to patent it as a new drug."

    So is the public at large now generally accepting the beliefs that not only are biological compounds [wikipedia.org] patentable, but that slightly changing them results in something sufficiently different to also be patentable?
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:04PM (#18025590) Journal
    I tried making a perpetual motion machine, but it just kept getting faster and faster. I mean what use is a device that creates free energy? And it's just damn irritating when the fundamental laws of physics stop applying.
  • by SQLz (564901)
    Smoke em' if you got em boys.
  • So even with professions that goes in the rocket science section it still works by trial and error.
    forget all the calculations and fancy formulas, most breakthroughs are still done by "mistake"
  • Just Like Penicillin (Score:4, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:06PM (#18025624) Homepage Journal
    Penicillin [wikipedia.org], the panacea [wikipedia.org] of the last generation of medical science, was discovered accidentally by Alexander Fleming [wikipedia.org]. Now a cancer cure, our era's "holy grail", has perhaps been found in a similar accident.

    It seems that the "error" part of the scientific method's "trial and error" process is even more important than the planned "trial" part.

    Maybe we should have more scientific research conducted like jazz, which is sometimes described as "gracefully exploiting errors".
  • by trongey (21550) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @01:51PM (#18026308) Homepage
    I can't believe they keep pouring so damn much money into research for curing mouse cancer. I mean, who cares if mice have cancer? They only live a couple of years anyway.
    Why don't they use some of this money to find cures for human diseases or world hunger, or something?
    • Re:Mouse Cancer (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bastian (66383) on Thursday February 15, 2007 @02:43PM (#18027066)
      This might have been meant as a joke, but there's a healthy dose of truth to it. There's enough physiological difference between mice and humans that you can't trust research on them to be applicable to humans. This is why animal testing has to be followed up with extensive human trials before a drug can be released to the market.

      For example, many animal trials (mice in particular) didn't show cigarette smoke to be nearly as much of a cancer risk as it is for humans. This research data was in turn used by Big Tobacco in their defense back when they were still trying to pretend that smoking isn't so bad.

      Similarly, penicillin's release to the market was delayed because it had a tendency to kill lab animals.

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