Monday, May 23, 2011
Science blogger deflates sensationalism of "Scientists cure cancer, but no one takes notice" story - Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog
"....So we have one popular account that is badly written and makes exaggerated claims. There is also a university press release, the source for the sloppy popular account, that doesn't contain the egregious stupidities but does tend to inflate basic research studies into an unwarranted clinical significance. And then, of course, there are the actual peer reviewed papers that describe the research and rationale, and also the reservations, on DCA. It's like a game of telephone: you can actually trace the account from the sober science paper to the enthusiastic press release to the web account with its extravagant claims of a simple, cheap cure for cancer, and see how the story is gradually corrupted. It would be funny if the final result wasn't going to dupe a lot of desperate people.
But there is a germ of truth to the story, in that DCA does have potential.
We should be urging further investigation of this promising drug with the beginning of clinical trials, but it's far too early to be babbling about "cancer cures". There have been lots of drugs that look great in the lab and have excellent rationales for why they should work, but the reality of cancer is that it is complicated and diverse and there are many more pitfalls between a drug that poisons cancer cells in a petri dish and a drug that actually works well in the more complex environment of a human being."
Predicting longevity and curing cancer — quackery, or mere exaggeration? > Facts & Fears > ACSH (re: DCA)
.....In another example of scientific distortion at least bordering on quackery that has infiltrated the media, a Fox News LiveScience blog chastises big pharma for their alleged reluctance to engage in cancer research involving a chemical known as dichloroacetate (DCA), due to their inability to patent it, thereby eliminating the profit motive. The piece chronicles the work of Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, a cancer researcher at the University of Alberta, whose claims that DCA can kill cancer cells are based solely on test tube experiments, animal testing and an extremely small clinical trial he conducted, which was composed of only five patients. Though even he admitted that “with the small number of treated participants in our study, no firm conclusions regarding DCA as a therapy…can be made,” he still attacks pharmaceutical companies for not investing in further research.
But not so fast. As Gary Schwitzer points out on his site, healthnewsreview.org, wherein he links to another blogger’s exposé of the DCA-conspiracy theory, the claims regarding DCA as an effective cancer treatment have been largely exaggerated: since there have been no clinical trials using the chemical, there is no basis for the researchers to allude to a cure.
And even if the claims were true, pharmaceutical companies actually could obtain protection via a “use patent.” This permits patent protection for old products (or drugs) where a new use has been discovered, explains ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom. “So this whole story is chock full of misinformation," he observes. "What is more likely is that Dr. Michelakis approached drug companies and they were just not interested.”...."
"......A new drug model
Small trials and case studies won't be enough, however, to prove DCA works. Further investigation into the drug's efficacy is necessary, and without the help of Big Pharma, it will have to happen in an unusual way.
"This could be a social experiment where the public funds these trials," Michelakis said. "After discovering the effect of DCA on cancer cells, I consider this the second-biggest achievement of our work: when we showed that you can bring a drug to human trials without a lot of money. If others were inspired" — his group is beginning to establish collaborations with some prominent cancer hospitals —"this could be a major achievement. Eventually the federal bodies like the National Cancer Institute would see there is enough evidence, and then they'll help with funding."
"It represents a new attitude and a new way of thinking," he added......"
The top 5 lists will be distributed to all alliance physicians in their respective primary care specialties. The alliance is also planning to produce videos for patients that explain the rationale for the recommendations by showing that risks outweigh benefits for these interventions for at least some patients, and make clear the link between overuse and health insurance premium hikes.
Genetic Alliance Webinars offer information and discussion on a variety of topics, including hot-button issues in genetics and advocacy, public policy, and organizational development. Genetic Alliance presents a new webinar at least once a month.
Suffering from Information Overload? Know When to Trust It or Trash It
Wednesday, May 25, 2011 12 noon - 1:00 PM
Breast Cancer Risk Calculator Updated for Asian-Americans - NIH Research Matters - National Institutes of Health (NIH)
"...The new model can assess risk separately for American women who identify themselves as Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander or other Asian. Compared with the AABCS, the researchers found, the original assessment tool overestimated risk for Chinese and Filipino women, and underestimated risk for Hawaiian women....."