Pulse 96: A Cure for Cancer? Either Way, Beware Political Propaganda

4 February 2019
Giulio Prisco

Hope for Cancer Cure

Last week, the press and social media went afire with reports, first published in Jerusalem Post, that Israeli scientists think they might have found the first complete cure for cancer.

“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer,” said Dan Aridor, Chairman of the Board of Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi). “Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks, and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market.”

AEBi founder and CEO Ilan Morad added that the company has concluded its first exploratory mice experiment, which inhibited human cancer cell growth and had no effect at all on healthy mice cells, in addition to several in-vitro trials.

When something sounds too good to be true, some skepticism is healthy. I can’t wait to read more about this research in peer-reviewed scientific journals, but I am not holding my breath until then. Predictably, many news outlets have expressed strong doubts on AEBi’s claimed breakthrough. Tempering excessive early enthusiasm for claimed cancer breakthroughs is an important function of the responsible press.

But Wired’s hatchet job is really over the line. According to a Wired writer, the story must be “both bogus and tragic” because it was enthusiastically covered by Fox News and “Pro-Trump twitter troll Jacob Wohl ... followed shortly by conservative political pundit Glenn Beck.” The writer even feels the need to emphasize that Jerusalem Post is a “centrist” newspaper.

Now, it seems needless to say that the political positions of those who are initially enthusiastic about a claimed cure for cancer have nothing -- nothing whatsoever -- to do with the plausibility of the claim, which can only be evaluated with scientific studies and clinical trials. But the fact that, in a story like this, a journalist emphasizes irrelevant things for political propaganda, tells me something very sad about portions of the media.

I am mostly skeptical, but I am really hoping that AEBi will prove me wrong.

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New promising drug compounds could be next-generation AML therapeutics. Purdue University researchers are developing a series of drug compounds that have shown promise in treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive blood cancer that is one of the most lethal. A research paper published in EBioMedicine describes these compounds, which, according to the scientists, have a great potential to be the next-generation AML therapeutics for relapsed patients who no longer respond to existing therapeutics.

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