We keep thinking we have a lock on curing cancer, but it continues to be very elusive.
As I understand it, using automation to "debug" individual cancers is scalable. That is, reading a cancer, adapting to it, and creating a vaccine is something that can be done with increasing levels of detail as automation increases.
So if they only show a 1% improvement, it's a strategy definitely worth continuing. This is very much like the hacker who keeps playing around with a broken method until it works -- only it's all automated. It very well may be that we "learn" how to contain/control many cancers without having a traditional understanding of them at all. Fascinating approach, and much different from previous forays. Watch this space. Given the history, my money says it's still going to be a long, hard slog -- perhaps decades, but still, a promising approach.
The reason it seems like everything causes cancer is because everyone is at risk for cancer. Living is a cancer risk. A lot of people don't die from cancer because they don't live long enough, but prevention will never happen. Cancer is inevitable.
Except of course for all those that do live long enough, I don't think the centenarians and beyond die of cancer http://biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/60/7/862...
From what I can see at FastStats http://seer.cancer.gov/faststats/selections.php?series=age incidence does go up with age, but there's still plenty of cancers that happen at relatively young ages, and if you look at the trend, going back to 1975 which is not that much really, you can see a marked increase towards 1990 and then a stabilization, which to me suggests it's quite likely that environmental and lifestyle factors do come in play, as similar trends occur in other health related issues (metabolic syndrome). Markedly lower Vit-D levels, our increased consumption of n-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids and processed foods, all likely play a role.
I short, I agree with gp in that there is surely a bigger payoff in prevention, but that doesn't mean that cures wouldn't be welcome too. I can't agree that cancer is inevitable.
Edited to add links, formatting.
There are people immune to AIDS as well. These are the outliers. Just because people die of disease before they get cancer doesn't mean they wouldn't have gotten cancer otherwise.
>it's quite likely that environmental and lifestyle factors do come in play
Yes, I accepted that in my post. There are ways to increase your risk of cancer. My opinion was that there is never a statistically relevant zero risk for cancer. Prevention of cancer will never completely stop cancer from forming unless we know and can avoid all possible risk factors of cancer (impossible). Prevention is a good step, but finding a way to reverse cancer is the only way to keep people from dying from it.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
I'll look for some underlying data once I get out of class.
AFAIK the problem isn't necessarily "best practices prevention" per se but the fact that we massively over-consume health care because of bad incentives.
I'm pretty sure the original comment you replied to assumes the same meaning, that of promoting healthy behavior _before_ you become ill, not the newer and distorted meaning of "early detection".
There's a huge downside to that: "Lets see if drop tables works... oops."
I'm not sure if this thinking is only something from mixed metaphors or is applicable to what they're doing.
I really hope this vaccine will be available and effective when her tumor grows back.
There is definitely a huge buzz going through Roswell's campus regarding this.
Here is the publicly available information regarding this particular Phase I study.
I'm a programmer in Buffalo, NY. I always check Roswell's "Available Careers" and they always have to same two Programmer Analyst postings.
Do you have a chance to use cool technologies there? The postings mention JSP/VB/blah.
I'd love to send in a resume to support meaningful work.
Roswell is run similarly to a college campus (I've had previous experience supporting NY State colleges), meaning there are many departments, each run fairly independently of each other and each with different technical needs.
The departments usually fall in one of three categories: there is an educational group that works with UB's medical campus, a clinical component that treats patients, and obviously a heavy research component. During my time here, there have been at least four startups/companies that have formed as a result of research I've helped support.
Roswell currently has about 3,300+ employees. The Programmer/Analyst positions you have seen are an attempt to fill needed positions in various departments.
Everyone's version of "cool technologies" is different. I'm of the opinion, for the most part, whatever gets the job done thoroughly and accurately works.
In the past nine years I've written and maintain about 20+ applications in VBscript, C#, Actionscript, PHP, Ruby, etc with the various associated frameworks. Since every department requires something slightly different I've had to adapt as needed. However, recently we've been running with an inhouse PHP framework called Surebert which was/is written by a co-worker.
Interestingly enough for me, I've never written anything professionally in Java, but a lot of my co-workers have.
Out of the five of us on the web team, I'm the Apple fanboy. So I'm on a MacBook, iPhone, etc. Another one is on Fedora, another is using a Dell (ugh). To each their own.
And Roswell lets me moonlight on the side. I've had fairly steady freelancing gigs for a couple years now.
Interesting place to work. Good people. Very little complaints (nothing's perfect).
Some great things are happening in Buffalo/Roswell, this is just one of the more vocal discoveries worthy of attention. I truly hope this trial continues on successfully as the PIs (principal investigators) envision.
On a personal note, I find it mildly entertaining to say that "I code to cure cancer". It is an honor to support incredibly smart people working to eradicate such a horrible array of diseases.
There's piece about his fight in recent Scientific American. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-patient...
I am not a biologist but I imagine someday soon a scenario like this will be possible: You have a model of the sites and interactions the drug targets, and optimum biology - metabolism, target cells' proteomes etc. Measure these in the patient and you can predict ahead of time the efficacy of the drug and then optimize the drug's chemistry to be more effective for this individual. With a better understanding of protein modelling and such you could do a search for similar structures and compute the expected interactions and optimize for personalized effectiveness.
More info on Provenge: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sipuleucel-T
In other words, this is not news. There are probably hundreds of similar clinical trials every year.
Definitive efficacy is established in a phase III trial, along with safety.
This trial is news-worthy for a few reasons. One is that the only documented cases of cure of a disseminated cancer are proabably all due to an immune-mediated attack (exceptions are lymphomas and testicular cancers which can be cured with chemotherapy even if widespread). Vaccines are trying to exploit this mechanism. Another reason is that most of the treatments we use in phase I trials are poorly understood. The treatment employed in this study however utilises a pretty simple and elegant approach - find something that only cancer cells have, then try and bait the immune system with it.