Re: High school student develops cure for cancer
Commendable. Its a way to target cancer cells, ie, a delivery mechanism. Not a cure for cancer. But close enough.
I have 3 masters degrees (Microbiology, Food Technology and Biotechnology) and am currently involved in cancer research (and no, I am not a nerd for it!). For the record, cures for some cancers are available, but the nature of the disease is such that any medicine is sure to have side-effects.
Let me give you an example in layman terms. Leukaemia is caused when two proteins abl and bcr, which function normally on their own, are fused to give a bcr-abl anomaly. This is due to chromosomal translocation (philadelphia chromosome). If bcr is fused to abl, it means that abl protein production is switched on continuously, resulting in cancerous tumors.
The medicine (STI571) involves targeting abl in general and destroying all abl. Now, this not only destroys bcr-abl, but also normal abl. But since the body has alternatives to abl, it may result in containment for leukaemia with minimum side-effects.
However, for other cancers, destruction of the normal protein along with abnormal protein could impair body function. Because it is only for abl's case that your body has an alternative. For other cancers, there may be no alternatives and the protein may be essential. Hence, no standard cure for cancer.
This girl has suggested a good delivery mechanism that affects only target cells, but it remains to be seen whether it is actually practical. The reason why this doesn't automatically imply a cure is because of all the work involved in actually designing the right drug (based on VMD visualisations of protein structure, targeting the right antibody recognition sites, screening, etc.) which is very, very, and I MEAN very, difficult. And you have to do it for each type of cancer as well.
Last edited by Sliver C; 01-18-2012 at 05:27 AM.