30 January 2019
The buzz this morning came from a group of scientists in Israel, claiming that they have developed a cure for cancer – one that will work on ALL cancers – and it will be ready for patient care within a year. Amazing!!
But not so fast. The report, which first appeared in the Jerusalem Post, and then was picked up by multiple news outlets, described research that has only been carried out in mice. The article quotes the researchers: “the company has concluded its first exploratory mice experiment…” and then goes on to state: “Our results are consistent and repeatable.” The article read as a press release, and there was no link to any published research.
I am not a basic science researcher, so for a deep dive on the science please review Dr. David Gorski’s post. An important point that he highlighted – the research findings have not been published a peer-reviewed journal. Dr. Matthew Hall, who is the biology group leader for the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the NIH, posted this thread on his twitter feed:
This article on a ‘miracle cure’ for cancer has me so angry. How can unpublished, non-peer reviewed tripe get any attention at all? Some of the issues are in the thread below:https://t.co/RQIKZIWrjY
— Matthew Hall (@cispt2) January 30, 2019
Dr. Hillary Stires, a breast cancer researcher at Georgetown, noted:
So disappointed @nypost published this article. Not only is the work not peer reviewed, their proposed “cure” doesn’t even make sense. Giving patients hope based on this is despicable. #scicomm https://t.co/UjSS27lqbW
— Hillary Stires, PhD (@HillStirSci) January 29, 2019
Many new drugs are first tested in mice. Dr. Susan Love notes that mice do not naturally develop breast cancer. Researchers inject tumor cells into the mice in order to then study the responses to treatment. Just because it works in a mouse does not mean it will work in a person!
We are very good at curing mice even though they don’t naturally get breast cancer!
— Dr. Susan Love (@DrSusanLove) January 30, 2019
We all want a cure for cancer. Yes – even the surgeons, oncologists and researchers. We will find something else to do if this disease is cured. But cancer is not one disease and the concept of “The Cure” that will work for all cancers is probably not realistic. Articles such as this, and the avalanche of coverage that followed, only raise false hope among patients and their loved ones.