Are you thinking about selling a product through your Instagram that claims to prevent or even cure cancer? Don’t. The FDA is cracking down on 14 companies illegally selling 65 fraudulent products through websites and social media making those same claims. A press release issued by the FDA states these products are being marketed for use in humans and pets and come in the form of “pills, topical creams, ointments, oils, drops, syrups, teas and diagnostics (such as thermography devices).” Warning letters have been sent to these companies, and not complying with these letters could result in criminal prosecution. Next time you see a product like this, or this, and think “well that sounds ridiculous,” trust yourself.
The answer is Beau. How do we know? Because the Cancer Moonshot has been renamed the “Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot” in honor of the VP’s late son who died from brain cancer. Armed with $1.8B in funding, VP Biden recently gave an update on the project. One highlight is how the National Cancer Institute created the Genomic Data Commons, which archives cancer patient data using Amazon’s cloud computing software. Researchers have accessed this information about 80 million times, so that is a lot. In another initiative, companies like AZ, Novartis, Pfizer, and Celgene, just to name a few, are contributing to the Blood Profiling Atlas in Cancer (BloodPAC) consortium. Go team.
Yep, cancer survival death rates are going down and mean survival time is increasing, this according to a study by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries. While that is great news, there are several cancer types that continue to have very low 5-year relative survival rates: pancreas (8.5%), liver (18.1%), lung (18.7%), esophagus (20.5%), stomach (31.1%) and brain (35.0%). While we did not read the whole report (I know), we assume that cancer walks were not identified as drivers of decreasing mortality rates, but early detection is always good. That said, we did find this interesting. Keep fighting the good fight, we are making progress.
Here’s a riddle for you. What has four wheels and costs $150K? Hint: it weighs 150 pounds. Give up? It’s the new portable device that automates CAR-T production—we had to Google it, too. The current gene therapy process isn’t what we’d call convenient. It involves: flying the patient or patient’s blood to one of only a dozen research centers globally, a room full of smart people, and dozens of hours just to process one person’s cells. As you can imagine that rings up a hefty price tag—some estimates are around $500K. With the new portable device, Prodigy, the goal is to automate this tedious procedure and take gene therapy to the patient instead of the other way around.
Cancer…the c-word is cancer. Grail, a Silicon Valley startup, is developing a blood test similar to a liquid biopsy that works proactively to spot cancer. According to Business Insider, the goal is to “identify the tiny bits of cancer DNA that are hanging out in our blood but are now undetectable.” A test like that will take time, massive clinical trials and, of course, money. Lucky for them, Grail just raised more than $900M in funding from big names like Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, McKesson Ventures, Merck, Tencent Holdings Limited, Varian Medical Systems, and even Amazon. Who knows, maybe Prime members can get test results delivered to their front door in less than two business days.
Seems like everything causes cancer. Red meat, stress, sun screen…Wait, isn’t that supposed to prevent it?!? A group of nutritionists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena have found something that not only doesn’t cause cancer, but actually prevents the growth of cancer cells. What could this impossibly rare cancer resistant thing be, you may ask? How about nuts. That’s right. According to their study, nuts help activate the body’s own defenses for detoxifying reactive oxygen species. These are what cause damage to DNA; damage that leads to cancer development. So, put down your hamburger, grab your nuts, and go to Barrow, Alaska in Winter when you’ll find more than 60 days of complete darkness. No sunscreen required.
Do you ever get tired at your job? You know, those days when the work just keeps piling up until you end up sending an email talking about the “Key Onion Leader” you want at your conference next year? Well turns out, basal stem cells can mess up at their jobs too… except their mess-ups can lead to the second-most prevalent form of lung cancer instead of confusion over vegetable management. The correlation was identified by University of Melbourne researchers who realized there was high basal stem cell growth in smokers since those cells help replace cells lost from smoking. The discovery gives innovator companies a drug target to stop lung cancer’s progress in its tracks.