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Genetic Engineers Working to Reverse Cancer 121

An anonymous reader writes "Using a patient's own modified white blood cells, a team of researchers at the National Cancer Institute has reversed advanced melanoma in a study of 17 patients. The researchers tweaked the blood to recognize and attack cancer cells, and the head of the National Institutes of Health, Elias Zerhounibut, says there's big hope now that other common cancers, like breast and lung cancer, can be similarly treated. Though only 2 of the 17 patients responded successfully to the treatment, researchers are optimistic that future improvements on the technique will improve that rate of success." From the article: "In the study, Rosenberg and his colleagues took lymphocytes from the blood and inserted into them genes for a receptor capable of 'recognizing' a protein on melanoma cells called MART-1. This would allow the lymphocyte to attach to a tumor cell and kill it. The patients, all of whom had previously undergone surgery and immune-based treatments, got chemotherapy to temporarily wipe out their immune systems. The engineered cells were then reinjected, with the hope they would proliferate as the immune system recovered."
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Genetic Engineers Working to Reverse Cancer

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  • by rmadmin ( 532701 ) <rmalek@noSPam.homecode.org> on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:30AM (#16023843) Homepage
    Better look out, mother nature is going to take you to court for violating the DMCA when you reverse engineer her cancer.
  • by IntelliAdmin ( 941633 ) * on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:32AM (#16023859) Homepage
    What is so wonderful about this type of treatment is that it is not invasive. You could have a cancer that is very difficult to reach via surgery and this method would allow your body to bring the cure to the cancer.

    Windows Admin Tools [intelliadmin.com]
    • by Wilson_6500 ( 896824 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:55AM (#16024050)
      It may not be invasive, but I bet it takes a hell of a toll on you. Part of the procedure used to implement this test protocol was chemotherapy to disable the immune system--and I'm not an M.D., but I don't think that's very much fun. Now, the payoff may be worth it (well, it IS worth it if the treatment takes), but I still imagine it's nearly as trying as standard modalities, especially for cancer patients who've already had surgery or radiotherapy or the like.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        My father died of cancer a couple of years ago and I can assure you chemotheraphy is everything but not-invassive. It's incredible to see how a powerful body degrades to it's limits with it, but every hope is welcomed, even if you have to suffer with it :) I hope this research advances and we can treat it in the future, because cancer is getting worse everywhere with our 100% industrial food and environments, and that damn genetic thing says I'll probably follow my father. We need some Open Source replaceme

        • because cancer is getting worse everywhere with our 100% industrial food and environments

          Is it really getting worse due to pollution, or are we just living longer on average, and we've got to die of something now that smallpox and cholera etc have been eradicated.


    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by darrint ( 265374 )
      Wiping out the immune system is invasive. It is probably impossible to know when you have avanced melanoma, but how many of the 15 died of a cold?
      • by Anonymous Coward
        (sidenote: my wife had a BMT....she died October 2nd, 2005)

        Bone Marrow Transplants knock out the immune system with a combo of chemo and radiation. It's not a fun process (although it is scarily simple).

        Some people feel few ill effect. Most have vomiting, nausa and their hair falling out. My wife went into grade-4 Muciousitious (sp?) and had her mouth peeling. (Others have died from merely having their immune system knocked out)

        The survival rates for BMT patents was something like 50-60% iirc (5 year su
      • "Wiping out the immune system is invasive. It is probably impossible to know when you have avanced melanoma, but how many of the 15 died of a cold?" In an early phase trial like this, you can believe the study doctors were taking every possible precaution with the subjects once they were immunocompromised. It doesn't help you get grants when your treatment works perfectly, but your sloppy procedures kill the patients anyway.
        • by darrint ( 265374 )
          I don't doubt that precautions were taken. In fact, I think given the nature of what they did and the condition the patients were likely in to begin with, their results are extraordinary. Their research should continue. I expect their results will improve. But it should be noted, that it is a crude invasive procedure, just not the cutting kind.
          • Oh yeah, no argument with you there. I'd be willing to bet most of these folks spent the next couple of weeks after their chemo in clean rooms.
    • ...and we never heard about it again.

      Seriously, how often do we hear about break throughs, that never make it to people dying of cancer. Perhaps, I'm just missing it. Is there a webpage that has a timeline of various breakthroughs, when they were discovered, approved by the FDA and used on the general public, and how many lives saved. There has to be somthing if just improvements in chemotherapy.
  • bbc has more info (Score:5, Informative)

    by legoburner ( 702695 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:32AM (#16023862) Homepage Journal
    The BBC [bbc.co.uk] also has more info about the procedure.
    For Mark Origer, 53, the treatment completely eliminated his skin cancer and another tumour on his liver shrunk enough that it could be removed surgically. Last week, doctors pronounced him completely clear of cancer cells.
    Another man, aged 39, was able to clear the cancer that had spread to his liver, lymph nodes and lung.

    Always nice to see the light of science burning brighter and any treatments that can get rid of cancer that has spread to the liver are pretty amazing.
  • by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:34AM (#16023877)
    These days, it seems that some of the more promising cancer treatments involve using the body's own defenses against cancer. The antiangiogenesis stuff didn't pan out as well as hoped (blocking blood vessel growth in tumors). Some of the treatments that fix a particular genetic defect in certain types of cancer are great, but extremely cancer-specific.

    This approch does require a lot of work (tailoring a particular patient's T-cells to a particular cancer), so it's not a cheap fix. It also requires the patient's immune system to cooperate and do it's thing, something that only happened in 2 of the 17 patients. Still, to get complete remission where there was no hope is extremely promising. My guess is that we'll see more of this.

    Basically if the human race can do two things: 1) Regrow organs that have worn out and 2) cure cancer, we'll live for a very long time.
    • by inKubus ( 199753 )
      I guess I can go buy that carton of cigarettes I've been wanting now!

      Add to the list the banning of trans-fats in food and we need to get to the bottom of this plastic bottle thing (that leach chemicals into their contents and then you ingest them..)

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by oudzeeman ( 684485 )
        just drink beer and you won't have to worry about plastic bottles...

        I'm only 26 and I remember when coke and pepsi came in glass bottles...I imagine there are a lot of people alive today that have never seen anything other than plastic coke and pepsi bottles. I even remember the car dealership we used to go to when I was little - it had a glass bottle vending machine. each bottle was on its side with its cap pointing out towards you. Each bottle was had spring loaded mechanical fingers around the bottl

        • by Ucklak ( 755284 )
          You probably grew up in some rural town being 26 and remembering that. I too grew up in a rural town and remember the 5 cent deposit for bottles.
          I also remember when canned drinks (beer) had removable tabs.
          • I also remember when canned drinks (beer) had removable tabs.

            I remember when canned drinks had NO tabs, you needed a can-opener. OMFG I'm old....
        • I have seen the small glass bottles of coke in the US. They were at a store where many of the customers were elderly. My grandfather *insists* on them. I have also seen them in a "real" mexican restaurant. (Real meaning it catered to people from Mexico.) They had american coke in plastic bottles and mexican coke in glass bottles. I wonder if the mexican coke was made with less / no high fructose corn syrup?

          To go back on topic: the article mentioned the 15 who died. We assume they died of cancer. I
          • by shawb ( 16347 )
            Mexican coke is probably made with cane sugar. The reality is that the U.S. is one of the only places in the world where high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is cheaper than cane sugar. This originally was because sugar cane can (and is) grown in the U.S., but not as efficiently as it can be grown in more tropical climates. The result is that the U.S. sugar (both cane and beet) farmers pushed for a heavy import on sugar so domestic sugar could compete economically. This tariff pushed the price of sugar up hi
    • by brewer13210 ( 821462 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:43AM (#16023959) Homepage

      Although only 2 of 17 patients recovered, if this was an initial human trial, then all the scientists were looking for was toxicity effects in people who were otherwise pretty much beyond any other medical treatment. i.e. people with cancer so advanced, that a treatment like this probably wouldn't make them any worse.

      Hopefully when this method of treating cancer is applied to people whose tumors are not so advanced, the results will be far more effective.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bwcarty ( 660606 )
      I went through chemo and radiation for a T-cell lymphoma about 2.5 years ago. I'm curious about what the possibilities for this type of treatment are when the T-cells themselves are the cancer.
      • by ahsile ( 187881 )
        My uncle died of T-cell lymphoma 16 1/2 years ago. The day before my 10th birthday, also the day of my grandparents anniversary. I'm glad our (everyone's) donations have helped enough that others can now survive.

        You've made me all emotional now... arse.
    • by LiberalApplication ( 570878 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:06AM (#16024124)
      Basically if the human race can do two things: 1) Regrow organs that have worn out and 2) cure cancer, we'll live for a very long time.

      Meaninglessly, unless we can determine the mechanisms of senility and treat/prevent them. Personally, I'd love to live forever, but only if I can be guaranteed to not become a crazy old coot who thinks his toothbrush is stealing money from his wallet while he sleeps.

      • Countries with ageing populations like Japan have already done a lot of research into the causes of and prevention of senility. As I recall, the upshot was that if a mind isn't used, it atrophies. They put senior citizens into education programs and get them playing computer games, seems to work well so far.

      • Note where GP said "1) Regrow organs that have worn out." The human brain is an organ, no?
        • Note where GP said "1) Regrow organs that have worn out." The human brain is an organ, no?

          That's the thing - will simply regrowing the brain or causing new neurons to form actually have the effect of staving off senility? If neurons in certain pathways die, will having new neurons appear in random locations, not connected to anything, will that result in any improvement? What will your mind, your consciousness be like when 50% of the neurons within it are new ones you didn't have when you were born?

          • Well personally, I was considering growing a completely new brain from scratch and replacing the old one with it, none of this neuron-by-neuron mess ;)
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by shawb ( 16347 )
            Actually what you are describing happens, except that neurons don't appear in "random" locations but certain locations of the brain (see neurogenesis [wikipedia.org].) Neurons also naturally migrate naturally in the brain. An individual neuron in the brain really doesn't have much control over thought processes, it's the network of connections that are important, and there is a lot of redundancy built in to deal with damage and cell death. The brain is also pretty decent at routing around some types of damage, sometimes
      • Responding to my own post...

        Personally, I'd love to live forever, but only if I can be guaranteed to not become a crazy old coot who thinks his toothbrush is stealing money from his wallet while he sleeps.

        Okay, I realize that there is humor value in this, but I was actually speaking from experience. I went to go visit childhood friend's grandfather (our families are close) and at the age of 105, he really *does* think everyone and occasionally, some things, are stealing from him. It's gotten to the

      • only if I can be guaranteed to not become a crazy old coot who thinks his toothbrush is stealing money from his wallet while he sleeps.

        I think that is my new goal in life.

        Lazy foreign toothbrushes, looking all smug in their stupid little cup. Sneaking money out of my wallet when I'm not looking I SEE YOU! A conspiracy, I tell you, CONSPIRACY!
    • we'll live for a very long time.

      Sure, if we don't kill each other first.
    • It also requires the patient's immune system to cooperate and do it's thing, something that only happened in 2 of the 17 patients.
      The big problem is that they weren't even sure that their engineered T-cells were responsible for the recovery. They didn't do any tests beforehand to make sure these cells could fight the cancer!!!
    • I haven't read the paper, but it seems like they were only trying to produce a cell-mediated (i.e., T-cell based) immune response, whereas generally, a strong immune response is both T- and B-cell based. There was a paper in Nature Medicine a few years ago where, similar to this, they removed antigen-presenting cells from patients and engineered them to display HIV proteins, resulting in a strong immune response when they were returned to the patient's bodies. I wonder if something like that could be used h
    • "The antiangiogenesis stuff didn't pan out as well as hoped"

      Huh? Trials on antiangiogenesis drugs are still continuing; it's hardly at an end state. Plus, the initial drugs tested only worked against one angiogenisis growth factor; research has revealed that there are in fact many different ones in play.

      I admit that initial trials "didn't pan out as well as hoped", but that's partially due to overly high expectations; so many people were trying to imply that the cure was right around the corner and t

  • by Veetox ( 931340 )
    Scientists have been working on this for years and it's exciting to see that it's finally showing some promise. However, training a patient's immune system to recognize cancer related proteins can be dangerous. The cancer related proteins are often mutated forms of proteins on normal cells and sometimes just normal proteins that are much more prevalent on cancer cells. A mistake could lead to autoimmunity.
    • it's exciting to see that it's finally showing some promise

      I dunno, I listened to this story on NPR last night, and the NIH crew has been working on this for over twenty years. Their initial research showed successful results about 15% of the time, and this latest study shows successful results...11% of the time. Granted it's a small sample size, but I'm really not convinced they're making a whole lot of progress. Too bad, it's an interesting technique, I hope they can figure out how to make it scale.

      • by Veetox ( 931340 )
        You're right: it is a small sample size. But also consider the following: 1. Cancer is often unique to the patient. 2. Scientists around the world are finding new protein and RNA links to cancer all the time, offering us a wider selection of antigens to chose from. 3. The government didn't give the NIH it's usual inflation-determined increase in funding in its last annual budget. So everybody in cancer research has to work with less now. So, the study may still be promising; but only if we can add more mom
    • by Xenna ( 37238 )
      Cancer is dangerous.
      Virtually all cancer treatments are dangerous.

  • Great news. (Score:2, Interesting)

    That is promising research. It seems to be the most promising other than future use of nano technology to deliver drugs directly.

    It seems odd that you would use chemotherapy described in the article as being something that wipes out your immune system, and then try to use a treatment that relies entirely on your immune system being effective. Maybe thats part of the treatment, but it seems like you would want your immune system at 100% for this process to work.

    These articles always make me wonder if
    • Re:Great news. (Score:4, Informative)

      by RebelWebmaster ( 628941 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:09AM (#16024147)
      RTFA. The immune system has to be completely wiped out at the beginning so that the modified cells have a chance to become prevalent in the body after being injected.
      • Undeserved overrating of parent for a smartass comment.
      • It seems odd that you would use chemotherapy described in the article as being something that wipes out your immune system, and then try to use a treatment that relies entirely on your immune system being effective. Maybe thats part of the treatment, but it seems like you would want your immune system at 100% for this process to work.

        This RTFA crap is thrown around WAY too much.

        I never denied that the article said that, or that it was not correct to do it this way, I just said it seems counterintuitiv

    • Maybe thats part of the treatment

      No, it IS part of the treatment. It won't work without it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hcob$ ( 766699 )
      Here's it in geek terms:

      Just think of it as a hard reboot for your immune system. Then the newly developed anti-badthingys can go after what has infested your system
    • It seems odd that you would use chemotherapy described in the article as being something that wipes out your immune system, and then try to use a treatment that relies entirely on your immune system being effective. Maybe thats part of the treatment, but it seems like you would want your immune system at 100% for this process to work.

      They need to wipe out your immune system to replace it with the modified immune system that will attack cancer.
    • Don't forget that cells are the original nanotechnology. ;)
  • Abstract (Score:5, Informative)

    by xanthines-R-yummy ( 635710 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:40AM (#16023930) Homepage Journal
    Here's the absctract for the original article. Unfortunately, you have to be a subscriber to see the whole thing.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/112 9003v1 [sciencemag.org]

    I thought it was interesting how the lymphocytes stuck around for about a year. I thought they would have either died or kicked the gene out by then...
    • by nbauman ( 624611 )
      Here's the news story in Science magazine, which you can get without being a subscriber. It's not the actual peer-reviewed article, but it's written by somebody who understands this research.

      What Rosenberg did, BTW, is to find a patient who was cured, and therefore had T cells that could kill the cancer. Then he found a patient who wsn't cured, and therefore had T cells that couldn't kill cancer. He took a receptor from the T cell that could kill cancer, and inserted the receptor into a T cell that couldn't
  • by blakestah ( 91866 ) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:44AM (#16023961) Homepage
    Elias Zerhouni may be a little miffed at being called Zerhounibut!

  • by LoyalOpposition ( 168041 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:51AM (#16024009)
    The description of the patients is very dry, so I wanted to say something on behalf of the people receiving this treatment. What's happened is that each one started getting symptoms, probably a growth on the skin. They went to a doctor and were told that they had the most malignant of the three forms of skin cancer. Treatment options were presented to them, and they chose to undergo surgery. Either a few days after the surgery they were told that the margins weren't clean, or immediately after the surgery they were told that portions of cancer were inoperable, or some weeks later they were told that the cancer had returned. Then they underwent immune therapy. I don't know anything about that. Finally, they were told that they were terminal patients and to get their affairs in order, but that there was a new therapy the surgeons wanted to try. The chances of success were unknown. I don't know how much chemotherapy was necessary to destroy their immune systems, but a very good friend of mine, now dead, described it as getting flu one day a week for weeks on end. I count at least six events that had to be completely emotionally devastating to the patients and their families.

    • Yea.... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StressGuy ( 472374 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:00AM (#16024084)
      Having watched my mother die of Leukemia after a two year struggle, my cousin loose his stomach to cancer, and another relative (by marriage) currently facing a rare brain cancer with essentially no hope of survival (with a wife and two kids just a little older than mine), I'd say, let these guys play whatever cards they have.

      I'm going to be trying to get better contact info for the people doing this research and forward it to my cousin and the family facing brain cancer.

  • Interferon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Orcish_Rodent ( 665783 ) <aroden@nOSpAm.iupui.edu> on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:20AM (#16024241)
    High dose interferon has less than a 5% chance of remmisson. So if the 2/17 ratio is realistic this more than doubles the odds of recovering from advanced melanoma. High dose interferon is the leading (read: only) non-trial treatment for advanced melanoma.

    My father had/has stage 4 Melanoma. He went into remmision from high dose interferon and dmx clinical and NIH. BTW the study found no statisical improvement over just high dose interferon.

    quick wiki link:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanoma [wikipedia.org]
  • by dunelin ( 111356 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:21AM (#16024247)
    On ABC World News yesterday, they interviewed the lead scientist behind all of this. He said that since they set up the original protocol, they've found genes that are more than 100 times more effective on the cancers. Even though only a percentage of the patients will probably respond to these new anti-cancer genes, this method has enormous potential to improve greatly with more clinical trials and more research. This treatment is still cancer-specific, but it's much easier to find a gene to target a cancer than it is to come up with a new synthetic anti-cancer medication. In 10 years, I would bet that this stuff will have had amazing results.
    • by hackus ( 159037 )
      Mmmmm....10 years, I think it is a great idea, but let me make a few adjustments to what most drugs will be like in 10 years of this variety. But I do agree treatment will get better.

      A patent has to be developed from it first, so that it can be restricted to only those that can pay.

      We wouldn't want EVERYONE surviving cancer, that wouldn't be profitable and would destroy the market demand.

      Even if the protocols used are perfected on a per cancer basis, we certainly wouldn't want to CURE a person.

      What we woul
      • by vidarh ( 309115 )
        Fortunately for us these "corporate empires" have to compete, and while it might be more profitable for them to treat something rather than cure it, it will be more profitable for them to cure something than have a competitor cure it first. And when it comes to patents, they expire quite soon, and international patent regulations allow forced licensing.
  • Check out this [economist.com] story over at Economist.com. For some reason they insist on calling it "synthetic biology" rather than just the more advanced forms of genetic engineering around, but the topics are amazing. One guy is putting together a set of standard genes to be inserted into anything, and with universal connectors at each end. Another group is making a "minimal bacterium" that has the absolute shortest genome possible to still survive in the lab. There are other projects mentioned too, but the potenti
  • by denoir ( 960304 )
    The result, 2 of 17 does not strike me as a very statistically reliable.

    With a simple confidence interval calculation we get that with a sample size of 17 from a population of 1000 we get that with 95% confidence the results are 2+-2.6 of 17. Obviously 0 is within the error margin, so it is quite possible the results are just by chance.

    I have been trying to locate some information on what the motivation was for releasing such a weak result - in case I had missed something. I have failed to find any menti

    • by ChrisA90278 ( 905188 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @12:53PM (#16024922)
      You are right the 2 in 17 figure the news media picked up on is not important. But the real news here is that 17 in 17 did not die of the treatment which very well could have happened. Also I'm not sure of your method. In the cases studied it is very well known that all of them would have died. I'm not sure if 17 is the correct sample size. There are _many_ more known cases of cancer and these might be conciderd part of a control group.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Suppose only 0.1% cancers of this type go into remission spontaneously. Then 2 out of 17 doing so is statistically significant because it's fairly unlikely. I've no idea what the spontaneous remission rates are, but neither do you.

      With a simple confidence interval calculation...

      You don't have the information required to make this computation. Without knowing spontaneous remission rates you don't have any kind of probability distribution to start working from. There is no "simple confidence interval comp

      • by denoir ( 960304 )
        As several people have posted, the chance of spontaneous remission is about half of this result. As for the confidence calculation, it is fairly simple and of course it is a normal distribution.

        The simple calculation is as follows: Sample size: ss=17 Positive outcome probability: p = 2/17

        Sample size = ss = Z^2(p)*(1-p)/c^2

        Z = z value (e.g 1.96 for 95% confidence)

        c = confidence interval for probability so

        c = +- sqrt(Z^2*(p)*(1-p)/ss)

        Insert values: c = +-sqrt( 1.96^2 * (2/17)*(1-2/17)/17) = +-0.153

        • by denoir ( 960304 )
          Just a correction, what I meant to say was that it isn't a normal distribution per se (as there are are only two possible outcomes: dead or not dead). This is however exactly the same calculation you use for instance with polling when you calculate an error margin. The only information you have available is sample size and the probabilities of the different outcomes.

          If you don't trust my equations, you have them here [surveysystem.com] and on the same site you can find a javascript sample size calculator [surveysystem.com] which you can test

        • But as far as I can tell from reading a few articles these patients were chosen because they had a close to zero chance of remission. If that is the case, 2/17 is significant. I've not seen the 'several people' you mention, although one person pointed out that remission rates using interferon are about 5%, suggesting that spontaneous rates are well below that. I've no idea where you get your "Positive outcome probability: p = 2/17" from. What matters is how likely 2 people out of 17 might recover spontaneou
          • by denoir ( 960304 )
            That's statistical significance. The calculation that I showed you is for sampling error, and that only depends on the sample size and the measured posterior probabilities of the outcome (population size can be taken into consideration for finite populations).

            Since 2 of 17 people survived, that's your positive outcome probability. For sampling error the likelihood of of spontaneous recovery makes no difference at all. If we wanted to calculate a significance level, it would - but in this case it isn't nec

            • You need sample sizes of 1000+ to get an accurate measure of how the population as a whole would vote. That's because people are trying to estimate a proportion of the entire population to within a few percent. But this result is quite different. As an extreme example: if someone claims that X is completely impossible then you only need to find a single instance of X to prove them wrong. Similarly, if they say the probability is less then 0.00001 and you find 2 examples in a sample size of 17, that is also
              • by denoir ( 960304 )
                It's quite simple to calculate the sample size needed to come outside the margin of error. I gave you the equation. If you wish the confidence to be 2+-1 of 17, which is the minimum then you need 278 samples. Even if you would assume that the total number of possible cases to pick your 17 from was as low as 100, you'd need 74 samples to say with 95% confidence that 2+-1 of 17 were cured.

                As for your example, you are wrong because you are confusing mathematical logic and statistics. Claiming that something

                • you are confusing mathematical logic and statistics.

                  No. But (1) I think you need the some skill in the former before you can embark on the latter and (2) in a suitable limit, statistics needs to match mathematical logic, and a good test of your statistical methodology is to examine it's behaviour in the limit and compare it with mathematical logic.

                  If X has a probability 0.00001 of happening spontaneously, say, and you observe X occuring twice out of 17 times, you have very good evidence that X is not o

                  • by denoir ( 960304 )

                    We don't have a particularly good estimate of the rate of remission caused by the new therapy.

                    Exactly, zero rate of remission is within the margin of error. By that definition the null hypothesis can't be rejected. Get it? No matter how small the spontaneous remission rates are, they will be higher than zero. I'm not sure how to explain it to you further - I've tried both with words and equations.

                    No. But (1) I think you need the some skill in the former before you can embark on the latter and (2) in a

                    • The actual spontaneous remission rate for this type of cancer (malignant melanoma) is 1/400

                      Good work. Now I can start computing. n=17, p = 1/400. (Probably

                      zero probability is within the margin of error

                      It most certainly is not. If the probability of spontaneous remission were zero then it'd be impossible to get 2 out of 17 spontaneous remissions so we'd be 100% sure that the two remissions were not spontaneous.

                      After we sample 1000 random forum posts across the Internet, we will be able to confirm t

                    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                      by denoir ( 960304 )

                      Good work. Now I can start computing

                      No you can't. You need the variance to compute significance levels, which we don't have. Either way we don't need it as we can't reject the null hypothesis anyway due to the too small number of samples.

                      It most certainly is not. If the probability of spontaneous remission were zero then it'd be impossible to get 2 out of 17 spontaneous remissions so we'd be 100% sure that the two remissions were not spontaneous.

                      No, I didn't say that the probability of spontaneous rem

                    • With mathematical logic, yes, with statistics, no
                      I guess that's all I needed to hear. If your statistical inferences don't match your logical inferences for the subset of problems that can be tackled by both then your ability to make inferences is seriously compromised. I suggest signing up for some philosophy courses on inference.
  • I find I have mixed feelings about this report since I recently lost my cousin (29, non smoker) to an aggressive lung cancer. It's great, but couldn't it have come sooner?

    Cancer really sucks. I hope this pans out.

  • One question: will this new technique also work on other forms of cancer, like lawyers and politicians?
  • the head of the National Institutes of Health, Elias Zerhounibut

    His name is Elias Zerhouni ... perhaps a bit of impromptu editorializing?
  • O great more positive PR. If only people knew whats really going on. Im not going to trust anything these drug companys, drug industry is cooking up.There is just too much conflict of intrest and reports of corruption abound,accompanied with evidence I have read that around 90% of diseases can be cured with out drugs surgery or even side effects for dollars a day. theres too much positive news on alternative medicine and nutrition.Of course u wont hear these storys on the media outlets heavily funded by
  • Seriously, I was at a few seminars here at the UW by one of the Cambridge scholars who had an actual real cure for 50 percent of all cancers, which involves a literal heating of the interior of cells, triggering an apotosis chain that causes cell death in 99.99 percent of all cancer cells (of that type) while only killing less than 1 percent of normal cells. It's in trials in the UK and elsewhere and won't be available before probably 2016.

    The method mentioned is a technique - it increases the rate, and is
  • Great news (Score:3, Informative)

    by Washizu ( 220337 ) <[bengarvey] [at] [comcast.net]> on Friday September 01, 2006 @03:11PM (#16026042) Homepage
    The current treatments for advanced melanoma (Dartmouth protocol or Interleukin 2) are extremely difficult to take and they only have a 5-10% chance of a full recovery. Granted, this new treatment only worked for 11% of the patients but typically the people in these studies are in them as a last resort. We tried to get my Dad into one after his chemo stopped responding.

    It was too late for him, but hopefully not for the thousands who die from melanoma every year.

  • Sure beats 0 out of 17. Even when we do treat a cancer, it (almost) always comes back given sufficient time.

    If the cancer cells weren't so sneaky and/or the immune systems was doing its job right, the cancer would've been killed before it became a problem.
    • Actually, the overall cure rate for cancer currently stands at around 55-60%, depending on how you so the stats. Advanced metastatic cancers are extremely hard to treat, however.

      It is estimated, I believe, that 90% of cancers or pre cancerous cells are wiped out by the immune system well before the person involved even notices them; those that survive have mutations which stop attack by the immune system. Unfortunately, the implication here is that the cancer will evolve to become resistant to this treatm
  • My father was diagnosed with Melanoma 3 weeks ago. He underwent surgery but it came back less than a week later. It's now inoperable. I don't know what his next steps are (I don't think he wants to talk to me about this).

    Does anyone know how you can go about 'applying' to be in this test? I'm going to send him the article, but I was hoping to have more info.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll