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Medicine

Anti-Cancer Agent Stops Metastasis In Its Tracks 269

Posted by kdawson
from the of-mice-and-men dept.
Anomalyst writes "Mice were implanted with cancer. The control group died as tumors metastasized. The experimental group was treated with macroketone and survived a normal lifespan. While the cancer was not cured, metastasis was significantly (over 80%) inhibited. Even after metastasis had begun and additional cancers developed, macroketone inhibited subsequent metastasis. The original article is in Nature behind a paywall."
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Anti-Cancer Agent Stops Metastasis In Its Tracks

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  • More info (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @02:20AM (#31919150)

    See also http://www.physorg.com/news190482866.html

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @02:28AM (#31919188)

    Nature is the most prestigious publication there is for biology research. Your life goal as a scientist is to get as many nature articles as possible. That is how success is measured, in part. Getting on the COVER of Nature is a once in a life time kind of thing.

    The paywall is not a big deal. Just sign in through your institution's library. If you do not belong to an institution you really have no need to read it at all.

  • Re:As usual (Score:3, Informative)

    by leety (1762478) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @02:36AM (#31919224)
    Because science is EBIL. Meanwhile lets make sure every parent can make an "informed choice" between Darwin and "intelligent design". Oh and cigarettes and alcohol, you guys can stay too. But no strange cancer curing drugs. (We've run out of surgeon general health warning stickers)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @02:55AM (#31919300)

    Don't worry. You're not missing anything unless you've got a BA in biochemistry. The paper isn't light reading material. This [yfrog.com] is the only interesting figure for the general public.

  • Full text (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @03:14AM (#31919366)

    Text of the article [pastebin.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:12AM (#31919662)

    Money from the federal government is also only a fraction, although possibly a large one, of the money for research.

    You should be aware that argument doesn't hold water even with the federal government itself.

    Look at how often you see restrictions placed on people or institutions which receive even a whiff of government funding. It's a given that even a dollar from the government comes with strings attached.

    There was a case a couple of years back where a videographer shot scenes of a riot somewhere in Oakland, California. He actually spent months in jail for contempt because he refused to give up his footage on demand to the FBI. They really wanted it just to document people to watch who had taken part in the riot. Since there was no real federal issue in the riot, the justification thee FBI advanced (and got accepted by the court) for demanding the video was that a cop car had gotten torched and at least a few dollars of the price of the car had been provided by the feds.

    So, yes, I do assert that any research funded in any part by my taxes should be available to me at no cost, other than a reasonable cost of distribution. And that cost is minimal, considering that it's all there somewhere on rotating memory.

  • Re:As usual (Score:4, Informative)

    by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:19AM (#31919684)

    If only there were some sort of program to fast track the process through...

    http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/byaudience/forpatientadvocates/speedingaccesstoimportantnewtherapies/ucm128291.htm [fda.gov]

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:34AM (#31919748)

    Thank God! Mice of the world can now sleep easy at night.

    Funny, but definitely true. It's easy to cure cancer in mice. Researchers have come up with hundreds of different ways to do it. But while mice are biologically much more similar to humans when compared to say, koala bears, humans are still significantly more complex than mice.

    OBLIGATORY CAR ANALOGY: So when something works in mice, its kind of like using carfax - just because carfax doesn't report a problem doesn't mean the car doesn't have major problems, it just means carfax couldn't find any in the limited set of data available to them. Just because the mice don't have a problem doesn't mean the drugs don't have major problems, it just means there weren't any in the limited data-set of mice physiology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @04:54AM (#31919822)

    Macroketone is not a compound. What they are talking about is _one_special_kind_ of macroketone.

    Before you say citation needed, let me provide one:
    http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/117913741/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0

    Sheeesh. High-school level chemistry.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:19AM (#31920304) Journal

    Nobody said it'll be the only cure, lemming. If all else fails, once you pinned those tumours so they don't spread all over, you can just extract them surgically when they start to grow.

    But metastases are _the_ major killer in any treatment we've developped so far. Whether it's surgical, radiological, chemotherapy, you name it. You can't irradiate the patient all over, without killing him.

    It doesn't help that all those are basically just based on the idea that healthy cells have better DNA repairs than cancer cells, and cells currently dividing (which includes cancerous ones) have their DNA unspooled for copying, so they're more likely to get DNA breaks. So basically they just cause a bunch of DNA breaks everywhere, and hope they got more cancerous cells than healthy ones. It's basically akin to trying to stop a plague by shooting a shotgun into the crowd and hoping that healthy people will have more chances to survive the wounds. No, seriously, that's exactly what it does to your cells. It's a very nasty treatment for anyone who's been through it, and has the side effect of also killing any other cells which are continuously dividing, like those that give you hair or fingernails or sperm.

    Being able to stop metastasizing instead of that destructive treatment may actually be a more fun alternative. In the process you shaved less years off your life expectancy than normal treatments do.

    But breaking DNA randomly is very carcinogenic in itself, and may cause other cancers down the line. It's very possible to just postpone the inevitable that way. A treatment that at least stops those new cancers from spreading and killing you, may well be a life saver. That's in addition to the conventional treatment, pretty much by definition.

  • Re:As usual (Score:3, Informative)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:19AM (#31920310) Homepage Journal

    Heh, the fact your mind revolts about such outrageous idea is really no reason the reality will conform with the way you believe it should be. Do some research on the subject. Seriously. A very recent scandal in Poland revealed patients being experimented on (with drug-placebo comparison) -without- their consent or knowledge. Some dying from the disease after receiving no medication (only placebo) in cases where alternative, efficient medication exists and should have been administered were it not for high bribes from pharmaceutical companies that got doctors to essentially kill their patients.

  • by chooks (71012) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @06:59AM (#31920522)

    But as far as I know, theres nothing stopping you from putting it up on your web site as well or submitting it in publication in other journals

    A number of journals (and I would imagine that Nature is one of them) make stipulations that you will not discuss/disclose your findings until after the publication date. I've been to a number of presentations where the speaker can not talk about a certain aspect of his/her research due to pending publications.

  • by RDW (41497) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @07:47AM (#31920786)

    'But as far as I know, theres nothing stopping you from putting it up on your web site as well or submitting it in publication in other journals.'

    Nature has exclusive publication rights for the first 6 months, after which you're free to submit the paper to a public repository or put it up on your own site:

    http://www.nature.com/authors/editorial_policies/license.html [nature.com]

    This is rather more enlightened than some other major journals, which still require a copyright transfer to the publisher, but obviously falls short of full open access from day 1. But I think most people who get a paper in Nature will happily accept this compromise! (at least for now).

    Incidentally, some form of open access is pretty much being forced on traditional publishers by major funding bodies, which now commonly require that most or all funded publications are submitted to journals that provide this (time delays are generally allowed), e.g.:

    http://publicaccess.nih.gov/ [nih.gov]

    http://science.cancerresearchuk.org/gapp/terms/openaccess_ukpmc/ [cancerresearchuk.org]

    So things are at least moving in the right direction.

  • Re:Mod parent up (Score:3, Informative)

    by witch-doktor (1592325) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @08:40AM (#31921258) Journal
    Review is done by 'peers' i.e. other scientists, who do this as a service - no charge. The only cost incurred by the journal is typesetting and proofreading.
  • by sjbe (173966) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @08:45AM (#31921310)

    This is where you are wrong. You have one fact. The fact that this drugs cures 1/3 of the people taking it in the tests.

    That doesn't make him wrong. He has correctly noted that we know very little about this drug and it would be highly irresponsible to wantonly permit its use until we know more about it. It also means you are looking at a single patient and he is looking at the entire population. The FDA isn't charged with saving your individual life. The FDA is charged with ensuring that drugs and medical treatments are effective, reasonably safe and have known and tested side effects. The gold standard for doing this is to conduct double blind tests. The unfortunate side effect is that some individuals are absolutely going to lose their lives so that others may live.

    The FDA is acutely aware of the problem of denying treatments of unknown efficacy to terminal patients. They have expanded access [wikipedia.org] rules (with more likely to come) to deal with this exact situation. They aren't blind to the problem but there are very good reasons why they are careful about creating exceptions to allow use of unproven treatments.

    You do not have the fact that it kills any one. You just think it could. If we are talking about terminal cancer patients, they should be given it.

    Even the safest drugs kill some people. There are complex side effects, interactions with other drugs and dosage issues. The question isn't will it kill someone, the question is how many people will it kill if it is shown to be more effective than placebo and is that number small enough to justify widespread use? There also is the question of whether a terminal cancer patient's life today is worth more than the multiple lives that might be saved by learning about a drug and how it affects the human body. These are serious, difficult questions and there is more at stake than one single life. You are literally asking if the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

    In my mind it is morally wrong for the government to tell me that I can't make an informed decision with the information at hand and take the drug.

    I'd agree with that in principle but there is more to the problem. I'm assuming you are relatively bright, interested in your health, and willing to accept risks. Not everyone fits that description. Many patients are not very bright and informed consent for them is a bit of wishful thinking. There is no way in hell my own mother would really understand the risks of even many basic medical treatments. She is however relatively susceptible to listening to people who sound like they know what they are talking about. The FDA isn't in the business of preventing *you* specifically from taking a drug - they are in the business of preventing snake oil [wikipedia.org] salesmen. One only has to look at the "alternative medicine" industry to see that there is plenty of snake oil out there. The only tool we currently have to establish the efficacy of drugs is medical trials. If we just throw those out every time because we found a hint that a new drug might work in a mouse model, then we have ground medical science to a halt.

    Yes, the FDA policies cost lives for the sake of knowledge. Snake oil salesmen if left unchecked would cost more.

  • Re:As usual (Score:3, Informative)

    by ahankinson (1249646) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:02AM (#31922328)

    You only need to look up Vioxx [wikipedia.org] to see why your idea is a Very Bad One.

    You can't trust drug companies to completely list the side effects. They invest millions of dollars in a drug, and thus have a vested interest to turn it around and make money off it. Your "informed choice" might be a glossy brochure printed by the manufacturer. They might not even know that there are serious side effects, but you can be damn sure that if there are, they'll be left holding the bag and sued every which way to Sunday. And although you might be able to read a full clinical report, many other people cannot. They just know that they're desperate for a cure, and that someone is saying that Drug X "has potential." That's exploitation.

    You seem to think that the Government has some sort of malicious intent, slowing down drug approvals. They don't. What they do want to do is make sure that the drug does what the manufacturer says it does. In that way, they function more as an independent verification lab, which is always a good thing. Science relies on repeatability. If the FDA can't show evidence that the drug does what it's supposed to do, it shouldn't make it to the market.

  • Re:As usual (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:12AM (#31922472)

    You can take the drug under the compassionate use clause, as GP stated. The FDA is limiting the widespread use and marketing of the drug. And I am willing to get you my life savings that more than one "terminal cancer patient" has lived far in excess of what their doctors said they'd live. Is it worth it to risk killing a patient who may not have needed the treatment in the first place? Honestly, put down your tea bag, this situation isn't about the gubbermint dictating what you can and cannot do to your body. It is about the mass marketing of a drug that isn't proven not to kill you.

  • Re:Side effects (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:48AM (#31923070)

    People like you are the reason we have crap like MRSA [wikipedia.org] running around.

    From the amoxicillin [rxlist.com] monograph:

    Orally administered doses of 250-mg and 500-mg amoxicillin capsules result in average peak blood levels 1 to 2 hours after administration in the range of 3.5 mcg/mL to 5.0 mcg/mL and 5.5 mcg/mL to 7.5 mcg/mL, respectively.

    It wasn't the antibiotics, they weren't doing anything 15 minutes after they were given.

  • Re:Side effects (Score:3, Informative)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @10:52AM (#31923156)

    You're dying. Six weeks to live. What do you care of side effects? This is the major problem with FDA interference with medicines that can control or cure life-ending diseases.

    I think hypothetical situations like one you just made are not good foundations for changing policy.

    For one thing, I'm uncomfortable with allowing companies to be in a position to exploit desperate people, which is what you're doing if you say "You can skip the safety trials and go directly to human testing if people are desperate enough."

    True, you also have added the caveat of "dying in 6 weeks." That's 6 weeks longer than the patient might have if the meds unexpectedly prove toxic in humans. And where's the line? 2 months? A year? How certain does death have to be before you say to hell with all safety testing? I'm not a cancer expert of any type, but it seems to me that if you're -definitely- going to die, the cancer has already metastasized to secondary sites which will kill you, and this drug does nothing at that point. Maybe that's not the case, but if the drug has no chance of saving an individual, I don't think skipping safety testing and going directly to terminal cases is justified.

    I think it's also important to keep in mind that testing on people who are about to die from cancer has limited use anyway. Seems like a bigger goal would be preventing cancer in the first place or fighting cancer in it's earlier stages, well before you're about to die of it. I'd guess that type of testing would be more likely to find drugs that would -delay- death (definitely a worthy goal) but would be less likely to find "the cure for cancer."

    So I don't think "this patient is about to die" means all strings should be off, there are still important ethical questions. The pharmaceutical industry doesn't exactly have a perfect record when it comes to ethics, and dying patients could easily be duped into making themselves guinea pigs, sacrificing what little time they have left without understanding the risks.

    It's also important to realize that the FDA doesn't exist to block life-saving drugs from being available, they're not as unreasonable as you might think, they deserve a little more credit than I feel you're giving them. When the cocktail treatment for HIV was being tested in humans, it quickly became clear that the treatment was significantly better than the placebo and it would be unethical to continue administering the placebo instead, and if I recall the test was ended prematurely and the drug was available to the market soon after. Conversely, FDA interference has worked in the past, the industry was complaining about how much interference it was putting up on a drug called thalidomide when all of Europe had already approved it, when it became clear it had unpleasant side effects.

  • Re:Side effects (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrRossi (801906) * on Wednesday April 21, 2010 @11:19AM (#31923672)

    Needless to say, I refused to pay a dime to the guy, told him that if he didn't step out of the way he'd be lucky to walk away with a broken arm and a black eye. We went to another doctor who did prescribe antibiotics, after some pressure, and lo and behold, the fever went down a mere 15 minutes after administration.

    Well, lo and behold indeed, as it is generally recognised that it takes several days before antibiotics start working we have a real miracle here.

    Antibiotics do not have a (near) immediate effect as general painkillers have.
    So either:
    a) you are being dishonest and/or
    b) the fever subdued to some other cause.

    In any case, by your own admittance, you threatened the first doctor with severe physical violence, while he was right and simply doing his job, and nonetheless you are very self-righteous about it, and to top it of you refused to pay him as well!

    Not only that, but you "pressured" (meaning he didn't want to give antibiotics either) the second doctor too, but he finally caved in.

    You are talking about "medical practitioners" in your family, but none of them were evidently able to tell you that it takes days for antibiotics to start working, and also, as I found out by some light surfing on baby-sites, that baby fevers are not worrisome until about 40 C or 41 C. (!) Apparently they can come and go pretty quick. That also hasn't been told to you by the medical practitioners in your family.

    For example, see http://mens-en-gezondheid.infonu.nl/ziekten/23242-koorts-bij-kinderen.html [infonu.nl] (dutch)

    Originally I came here to reply to your first post which is full of all sorts non-truths (European doctors send you home with pain killing cream if you have a broken leg, yea, right!), but you second post was even more over the top so I ended up replying to that one.

    All in all you look to me like an unpleasant, lying, bullying and self-righteous kind of person, and I'm happy I don't have any more business with you.

    And, oh yeah, I'm Dutch.

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