A cure for cancer? Despite one company’s claims, many experts uncertain

“We must be aware that this is far from proven as an effective treatment for people with cancer, let alone a cure,” Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld.

By
January 31, 2019 22:50
4 minute read.
Cancer Research

A scientist prepares protein samples for analysis in a lab at the Institute of Cancer Research in Sutton, Britain, July 15, 2013. (photo credit: STEFAN WERMUTH/REUTERS)

 
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Experts are pushing back against claims by two Israeli scientists that they have discovered a cure for cancer. The original claim, published in Tuesday’s Jerusalem Post, went viral, reaching millions of Internet views while making international headlines.

“We must be aware that this is far from proven as an effective treatment for people with cancer, let alone a cure,” Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the national office of the American Cancer Society, wrote on his blog.

Lichtenfeld pointed out that the article was simply a news report based on information provided by the researchers, but that the research had not yet been published in scientific literature “where it would be subject to review, support and/or criticism from knowledgeable peers.”

Lichtenfeld also said he spoke with colleagues who believe that the technology presented by Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi) could be very powerful, but also more difficult to work with than the company maintained as research progresses from in vitro to animal to human trials.

“If this group is just beginning clinical trials, they may well have some difficult experiments ahead,” he wrote.

In Tuesday’s story, AEBi’s chairman of the board, Dan Aridor, and its CEO, Dr. Ilan Morad, maintained that their treatment, which they call MuTaTo (multi-target toxin), is essentially on the scale of a cancer antibiotic – a disruption technology of the highest order. In the story, Morad said that the company has concluded its first exploratory mice experiment in addition to several in-vitro trials. AEBi, he said, was on the cusp of beginning a round of clinical trials which could be completed within a few years and would make the treatment available in specific cases.

Despite their enthusiasm, publications across the United States and Israel rejected the report, insisting that it is – as Victoria Forster, a health care reporter for Forbes maintained – “categorically untrue.”

Forester quoted Dr. Benjamin G. Neel, a professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, who said anything tested in mice must undergo testing in other animal species, be formulated, and then approved for  administration in Phase I clinical trials in humans.

Forester drew the conclusion that “based on what they released to the media,” AEBi will not have a cure for cancer, and their claims are “highly irresponsible and even cruel.”

The Post presented the criticism to Aridor and Morad, who nevertheless maintained that “It will be available for testing on humans in a year, and it will be a complete cure – for the first time, a complete cure.”

Morad said that with the right budget, it will not take much more than one year to reach clinical trials, and “when we reach clinical trials, we can treat patients.”


“I hear many rejections that it is not possible to develop a drug so fast. But we did not say we will develop the drug and get its approval,” Morad continued. “We said we can treat and cure people.”

The team said that the company has presented and been subject to peer review, namely at three Drug Discovery Innovation Program conferences in Munich, Boston and Frankfurt. Major pharmaceutical companies attend those events, they said, including representatives from industry leaders Roche, Sanofi, Merck, Novartis, GSK and Bayer, for example.

AEBi maintained they have not published in a scientific journal - another point raised by critics - because they are a privately-owned company and are still in the process of generating final patents on their intellectual property. They said they have patents on their platform in the European Union, Israel and the United States.

The Post reached out to some 10 additional scientists and researchers, including hospitals and oncologists, most of whom did not want to comment on the record and felt that AEBi’s sweeping claims went too far.

But Dr. Moshik Cohen-Kutner, co-founder and CEO of Omnix Medical, said that while he does not know the company well enough to comment on whether they have a cure for cancer, “I do know that peptide-based drugs are very promising.”

“The technology of AEBi might be a cure for cancer because of the personalized route they are aiming for using selective peptides,” he continued. “It is only recently that the technology involving peptides has reached a point in which it is relatively easy to research. Peptides have the ability to cure human diseases.”

He told the Post that “robust and scientifically sound” projects may take one to two years to get from mice trials to human trials, providing there is adequate funding.

Nonetheless, as Lichtenfeld maintained in his blog post, “We hope this approach… bears fruit and is successful. At the same time, we must always offer a note of caution that the process to get this treatment from mouse to man is not always a simple and uncomplicated journey.”

The Jerusalem Post will follow up with AEBi in 12 months.

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