An Israeli company, ABEi, has made the news around the globe because it has claimed that by next year it will have a cure for cancer. Not any single, specific type of cancer but all cancers. The news gave a booster shot of hope for almost everyone who is currently suffering from the disease, and the media ran a number of follow up stories on the announcement.
The question now is whether the claims can be verified and what has this company discovered that has been missed by the thousands of other companies that have been working on a cure for years, if not decades. Looking into the story further reveals a number of problems that makes the announcement more hype than hope.
First, the current level of research has been limited to mice. As a matter of medical history, there have not been many therapies that have been equally successful in both mice and humans. Thus, the testing on humans needs to be conducted, then if successful, the drug will have to undergo approval by governmental agencies before being available for use on patients. All this will take more than a single year.
A gaping hole in the “next year” hype is that there has not been one clinical trial performed on the wonder drug. The absence of clinical trials is a huge red flag to any investor or scientist because to move to the next approval level it has to be demonstrated that the drug works under a set of established conditions without any negative side effects to the, in this case, human subjects. It is best to wait for the results of Clinical Trial One.
As of this writing, the research has not been submitted for a peer review process. In every professional field of study, peer review is the way to filter out incorrect protocols and gaping holes in the research, whether it is in medicine or literature. A panel of peers looks over the research to determine the accuracy of the research and whether the submitted paper should be allowed to be published in a reputable, established journal or publication for general consumption by the public. The first sign of a problem with a claim, breakthrough, or discovery is the rejection of the research by peer reviewed publications.
Then there is the financial angle of the new cancer curing drug. If such a drug was just around the corner, it would be a major financial coup for investors who would be the first to own the company’s stock. Such a rush of investors has not yet happened, which should be a red flag for anyone who follows these biotech stocks. On the flip side of the financial perspective, it would also make sense that investors who currently have significant amounts of money invested in biotech stocks related to oncology would be selling them off immediately. Yet no rush to do that has appeared.
All of this points to the unfortunate reality that this MuTaTo drug is nothing more than a company promoting itself in hopes of attracting more investors. MuTaTo seems to rhyme with potato, though there doesn’t seem to be any connection with the food. Even within its own borders, Israeli scientists have looked on the claim with considerable skepticism. Media outlets have stepped back from promoting the story. But there are people who maintain that the cure might actually exist and there is some sort of medical conspiracy to prevent the production of the drug because the medical and pharmaceutical companies stand to lose massive amounts of money should the claims be true.
There are two basic prongs used to attack the MuTaTo claims. One is the lack of scientific evidence and support from the research community. The second is the absence of investors moving out of existing biotech oncology stocks, which has the potential to cost this group of investors billions of dollars. It may be worth a small investment of time to keep an eye out for news on this story, but if history is any indicator the cure is only a hope rather than a reality. Finally, it is important to note that if this is some type of marketing strategy there is an enormous downside for the company, because who will ever believe them again?