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Cancer Therapy with Radioactive Scorpion Venom

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the suzie-morphs-into-a-stinkbug dept.

115

BostonBTS writes "Researchers from TransMolecular, Inc. have used chlorotoxin -- a component of giant yellow scorpion venom -- to target radioactive treatments for the deadly brain cancer glioma. From the article: 'In the study, 18 patients first had surgery to remove malignant gliomas, a lethal kind of brain tumor. Then doctors injected their brains with a solution of radioactive iodine and TM-601, the synthetic protein. The solution bound almost exclusively to leftover tumor cells, suggesting that it could be combined with chemotherapy to fight cancer. Furthermore, two study patients were still alive nearly three years after the treatment.' Their paper is slated for publication in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology."

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115 comments

with great power. .. (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822645)

Researchers from TransMolecular, Inc. have used chlorotoxin -- a component of giant yellow scorpion venom -- to target radioactive treatments for the deadly brain cancer glioma.

Just so long as they remember, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Re:with great power. .. (0, Redundant)

rs79 (71822) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822695)

"Just so long as they remember, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Just so long as they remember how Spider Man was created...

You got the spider-man joke! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822750)

Congratulations! A winner is you!

People, wake up! (3, Funny)

Chris Tucker (302549) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822759)

This is just some insane publicity stunt by Stan Lee for the "Who Wants To Be A Superhero" TV show!

Injecting yourself with radioactive venom doesn't give you superpowers.

God KNOWS I've tried!

Re:People, wake up! (3, Funny)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824366)

Wish I could tell you which Family Guy episode it was, but I think they were taking fan mail and doing TV shows with them. The family got super powers and took over the town. Mayor Adam West announces that he's going to roll in radioactive goo and later shows up in the doctor's office. The conversations looks like this:

Doc: I'm sorry, Mayor West, but you've got cancer.

West: Oh..., no superpowers? Speed? Strength?

Doc: No, just cancer.

Cool (2, Funny)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822654)

Well that sounds like a pretty cool movie. Is Bryan Singer directing?

Re:Cool (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823702)

Well that sounds like a pretty cool movie. Is Bryan Singer directing?
<sigh> As always, one man's Troll is another man's Funny. C'mon mods, lighten up.

Two out of 18... (3, Insightful)

A Nun Must Cow Herd (963630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822655)

"Furthermore, two study patients were still alive nearly three years after the treatment"... but what would the expected number of survivors be for a group that wasn't treated with this solution?

They almost make it sound like the patients survived the treatment.

Re:Two out of 18... (5, Informative)

DoubleRing (908390) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822693)

but what would the expected number of survivors be for a group that wasn't treated with this solution?

RTFA:

Because life expectancy for the 14,000 annual glioma patients in the United States is typically a matter of months, the results shore up animal research indicating that the venom protein may inhibit tumor growth even without a radioactive component, Mamelak said.

Re:Two out of 18... (5, Insightful)

Alfred, Lord Tennyso (975342) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822769)

I'm not sure that answers the question. Many die within months, but we're talking about only 2 out of 18 to make it three years. Curves have tails, and knowing that the mean is only a few months doesn't tell us how many would be expected to live for 3 years.

The Journal of Neuroscience [64.233.161.104] (google cache, the site appears to be down) says that "more than half die within 18 months". Presumably that's with standard treatment. If half were to die every 18 months, that would still leave 1/4 of the patients, around 4, after two years.

I'm sure that's not the right curve to draw; Wikipedia says "few patients survive beyond three years". Is "few" more or less than 2 out of 18? Probably less, but I'm still not at all clear on whether this treatment is actually better than the standard treatment.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

A Nun Must Cow Herd (963630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822903)

Exactly. And even if 2 survivors at three years is atypical for traditional treatment methods, how much does it really say given that the test group was so small?

Re:Two out of 18... (5, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823184)

but I'm still not at all clear on whether this treatment is actually better than the standard treatment.

The problem with the "standard treatment" is it usually involves surgery. The Glial cells are the support and structure cells for the actual brain cells. To the naked eye, the cancerous cells (Glioma) are undistinguishable from normal cells (like sugar and salt mixed in a bowl - for multiforme), though an MRI can differentiate.

Any surgery also removes healthy Glial and brain cells (which do not regenerate) and the patient's functionality degrades. All it takes is one remaining Glioma cell and the process starts again.

Some people cannot, or choose not to, have surgery. As I posted earlier, my wife died in January of a GBM, just 7 weeks after diagnosis. She declined as it was next to her brain stem and would have left her completely paralyzed on her left side and blind in the left side of each eye. Surgery may have prolonged her life a bit, but it wouldn't have been the life she loved.

Hopefully, treatments like this will reduce the need for surgery at some point.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823497)

My truly sincere condolences on your loss..

A very good friend of mine was recently diagnosed with inoperable, multi-tumor stomach cancer.. life can really be a bitch.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824868)

My sympathy as well --- I lost a girlfriend to a GBM some years ago.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824910)

I feel your pain as well. Last December, my Grandfather's three year fight with two types of lung cancer, stomach cancer and three others ended.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

da.phreak (820640) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823765)

I think 2 out of 18 is much. Glioblastoma is one of the most aggressive type of cancer. The glia cells in the brain just grow and grow and grow constantly at an amzing speed. Removing the tumor itself doesn't help at all as the cancer cell grows through the surrounding brain tissues, it spreads all over the brain. It will grow back within weeks. Believe me, I've seen it myself. My mother did live almost a year after diagnosis, which is long for this kind of cancer.

You Made A Bad Assumption (1)

obiwanjabroni (619615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823845)

If you read the study, this study focuses on those who have failed conventional treatment, as is the case with most Phase I trials.

These poor folks have no other choice but to pursue experimental therapy - otherwise their expected survival rate is MUCH less than what would occur in the normal population.

In addition, Phase I trials are NOT designed to measure efficacy - they are designed to measure safety. Phase II & III trials will be able to determine prospectively efficacy of treatment versus control.

Re:Two out of 18... (3, Insightful)

A Nun Must Cow Herd (963630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822921)

You're probably aware that your quote doesn't answer the question. Not only is "a matter of months" vague enough to be unenlightening, but it also gives no indication of the distribution. Let me rephrase the question to see if that helps:
How unusual would it be for there to be two survivors at three years without using this new treatment?

Re:Two out of 18... (2, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823087)

Granted, with a sample size of 18, it's not absolutely sure that the treatment was responsible, but even with a good sized tail, 2/18 patients lasting 3 years is enough to make it worthwhile funding another study.... At absolute worst this treatment did the patients little, if any harm (statistically speaking).
"So let me get this straight: My choice is to die within months from this aggressive cancer, or let you inject me with scorpion venom?"
"yep".
"this reminds me of a George Carlin joke: '"Well Jim, there's no reason why you shouldn't live another twenty to thirty years. However, you will be bleeding constantly from both eyes'".

Re:Two out of 18... (1, Redundant)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823767)

> Granted, with a sample size of 18, it's not absolutely sure that the treatment was responsible, but
> even with a good sized tail, 2/18 patients lasting 3 years is enough to make it worthwhile funding
> another study....

No. You've still not answered the question. If 2 patients lasting 3 years is what you'd expect to happen without treatment then there would be very little point in funding that study at the expense of another study which showed that 2 patients lasted 3 years where normally they'd all have died.

Re:Two out of 18... (2, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825352)

OK: let's be blunt.
with an average survival time in months, one person lasting 3 years would be good. 2 people lasting 3 years means either
1) this study group got really lucky or,
2) This method is really, really promising.
with bets on #2.

I think that somebody posted that the 3 year survival rate is something like 3%, so this 10% survival rate is unusually high -- but possibly skewed by the sample size. This also depends on the patient group.... Young patients (rare) have a higher survival rate (up to 20% at 5 years according to this table [cbtrus.org] ), while retired people (who make up almost half the sufferers) have a less than 1% chance at surviving 5 years.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

BLAG-blast (302533) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822950)

animal research indicating that the venom protein may inhibit tumor growth even without a radioactive component, Mamelak said.

So, would that mean, if a glioma patient has of chosen to see a shaman witch doctor (note, probably too much redundancy in the last three words), who stung him with a yellow scorpion, might live longer than a patient in a similar condition under going western treatment. Depending on how healthy the patient and the ability of the shaman to administer a non-lethal dose, or maybe the scorpion delivers only a small amount of venom in one sting. Hmmmm.

I can't put forward how the shaman would know about this or diagnose the condition. Maybe he just stings everybody with a yellow scorpion, but does it often enough that he stopped killing patients a long time ago.

Peace.

Ps: I would like to thank grammarnazi for helping me become better at spelling and gramma. Thank you!

Re:Two out of 18... (4, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823325)

Also note that what they were performing isn't actually designed to destroy the cancer. They mixed this venom-derivative with a dye, and it targetted the cells correctly. When they actually use it properly, they're going to be mixing the targetting agent with something a lot more effective than an iodine dye. The 2 out of 18 thing is not an evaluation of the therapy, its noting an anomoly which a researcher presents a possible explanation for (the targetting agent itself inhibits cancerous growth). That possible explanation has neither been proved, nor is the point of this research.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824894)

Total survival for a glioblastoma is around 9 percent for three years, but this is three years survival after treatment; 2 out of 18 is already a little better (probably not significant with an n of 18), but it's a selected population. In any case, gliomas are such nasty beasts that any hope is good news.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

VikingThunder (924574) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822697)

From the article...:
"The solution bound almost exclusively to leftover tumor cells, suggesting that it could be combined with chemotherapy to fight cancer. Furthermore, two study patients were still alive nearly three years after the treatment. Because life expectancy for the 14,000 annual glioma patients in the United States is typically a matter of months, the results shore up animal research indicating that the venom protein may inhibit tumor growth even without a radioactive component"

Re:Two out of 18... (2, Informative)

bruins01 (992422) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822704)

2 out of 18 is actually very good for this kind of cancer. The survival rate after three years is about 3%. 11% would be a step in the right direction, but 2/18 is way too small a sample size to really draw conclusions. It is one of the most aggressive cancers of all.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

A Nun Must Cow Herd (963630) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822954)

3% is scary. Does it tail off after three years, or is the survival rate at six years about zero?

Re:Two out of 18... (2, Informative)

bruins01 (992422) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823071)

Statistically, just a bit. The 10 year rate of survival for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma is 1.7%.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822930)

My mother had this stuff and she lasted three weeks after the surgery. Living past a year is pretty rare, and living past two is abberrant. Mind you, I wouldn't want to live three days with this stuff unless it was caught hella early. It's an ugly form of an ugly disease.

Re:Two out of 18... (1)

cbnewman (106449) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823179)

First of all, it sounds like from the article that we're talking about high-grade gliomas (like glioblastoma multiforme) here. Typical survival is 5% after 5 years. Median survival time with best available treatment was 14 months 50 years ago. Now it's about 19 months and many people argue that it's because we're diagnosing gliomas earlier.

In short, this looks very promising but we're a long way from any sort of clinically relavent treatment.

SHUDDER (3, Funny)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822669)

Giant yellow Israeli scorpions live in the deserts of the Middle East and grow to about 4 inches long.
So why are people fighting over land in that part of the world?

Re:SHUDDER (5, Funny)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822710)

So why are people fighting over land in that part of the world?


Says the guy with "godgab" as his god damned signature.

Un-fucking-believable.

-Peter

Re:SHUDDER (1)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822775)

Says the guy with "godgab" as his god damned signature. Un-fucking-believable.
Says one of the few people I've came in contact with that is missing the sarcasm/humour gene. So sad.

Re:SHUDDER (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824206)

I can detect humor, but not in the trace amounts present in your post.

-Peter

Re:SHUDDER (5, Funny)

wirelessbuzzers (552513) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822797)

So why are people fighting over land in that part of the world?

They want the part that isn't infested with 4-inch long yellow scorpions.

Re:SHUDDER (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823903)

They want the part that isn't infested with 4-inch long yellow scorpions.

Which, it turns out, will only be fit for 4-inch long yellow scoprions when people are through with it.

I turns out, human beings are only the fourth most intelligent species on planet.

Re:SHUDDER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822891)

Because the average penis size over there is about 4 inches so they try to compensate by killing each others women and children before they go home to their own unsatisfied wives.

Re:SHUDDER (0, Redundant)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822916)

So why are people fighting over land in that part of the world?

It's like when Disney started secretly buying land through anonymous entities in Florida & as soon as word got out Disney was the ones actually buying the land, the prices skyrocketed, except in this case, the rockets are skying.

It's really complicated shit, that's all I know.

So many terrible jokes here... (-1, Flamebait)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823100)

>>
Giant yellow Israeli scorpions live in the deserts of the Middle East and grow to about 4 inches long.
>>

Its a little known fact that giant yellow Israeli scorpions and giant yellow Arab scorpions can actually be told apart, using the following field science experiments:
1) Make jokes about it. If you're still living, it was Israeli.
2) Shoot a missile at it from an open field. Wait 20 minutes. If you're still living, it was Arab.
3) Induce the scorpion to sting someone. This isn't very hard for either variety. Take care, both are pretty lethal. Turn on the television. If Kofi Annan is condemning the scorpion, it is Israeli.
4) Leave the scorpion alone in a room with $1 billion of UN food aid, marked "Do not touch -- earmarked for poor scorpion orphans". If the room is empty when you return and the scorpion's swiss bank account registered a transaction, it was Arab.
5) I'll leave this to your imagination, but suffice it to say that Israeli scorpions have a distinctive use for their pinchers. Really, you're probably better off just asking him to sting you -- it will hurt less.

Re:So many terrible jokes here... (1)

werewolf1031 (869837) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823737)

Flamebait? C'mon, mods... grow a frickin' funny bone, will ya?

Re:So many terrible jokes here... (1)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824175)

Hah, that was hilarious. What's wrong with the mods?

Re:SHUDDER (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15823350)

Because they cure cancer, duh.

Re:SHUDDER (1)

Riktov (632) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823513)

Because Syrian, Jordanian, Arabian, and Egyptian scorpions all grow to 9 inches long.

Yeah, but... (2, Funny)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822671)

Where do we find a vault-dweller to hunt some of those rad scorpions for us?

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822872)

I don't have an account yet; that's why I'm posting as AC.

But I've got to acknowledge the Fallout reference. Was the third installment any good?

Re:Yeah, but... (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822943)

Third installment, which one do you mean?
There's Tactics which was alright.
There's that console game which everyone hates.
And there's Fallout 3 which Bethesda is working on which is not out yet...

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822915)

You can start in Arroyo to get the Vault-dweller, but if you want to make the antitoxin, you have to convince Myron in New Reno to join your party. Just give him the Nuka-Cola and the radscorpion venom to the brain tumor cure. Doc Holliday in Broken Hills will trade you a doctor's bag and some stimpacks for a sample. Hope that helps.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15823965)

Not only that, but how many bottle caps will the treatment cost?

Radioactive Scorpion Venom (-1, Offtopic)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822673)

It's not just for killing sharks with frickin' lasers anymore.

Re:Radioactive Scorpion Venom (1, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822726)

Radioactive Scorpion Venom -- It's not just offtopic in discussions which don't involve radioactive scorpion venom anymore!

Re:Radioactive Scorpion Venom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822794)

All together now: "I, for one, welcome our giant yellow venomous radioactive...", and so on.

Re:Radioactive Scorpion Venom (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822960)

I wonder if someone could explain to me why this comment is "-1, offtopic" as opposed to the other comments that are rated "+5, funny". Call me weird, but I think this one is worth at least a "+0.5, slightly funnier than an episode of Friends".

Injected their brains?? (3, Funny)

XanC (644172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822691)

<servo>Sign me up for that!<servo>

Go Pip-Boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822713)

Glad to hear that the vault dweller saved the day again. I wonder how many bottle caps the treatment will cost.

Re:Go Pip-Boy! (2, Informative)

boron boy (858013) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823327)

Jokes aside, cost might be an issue. Scorpion venom is the most expensive liquid in the world [cockeyed.com] by volume.

Re:Go Pip-Boy! (1)

JuzzFunky (796384) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823416)

...let alone venom from radioactive scorpions!!

Re:Go Pip-Boy! (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824319)

Scorpion venom is the most expensive liquid in the world by volume.

Damn. And I thought it was ink for ink jet refills!

Re:Go Pip-Boy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824641)

RTFA.
    "Then doctors injected their brains with a solution of radioactive iodine and TM-601, the SYNTHETIC protein"...

(No promises that synthetic's any cheaper, though...)

Old news to players of Fallout (1)

OnanTheBarbarian (245959) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822735)

I don't know about all those high-falutin' "science" guys, but any Fallout players worthy of the title were already familiar with the interesting medical properties of radioactive scorpion venom way back in the 90s. Yet another case of Slashdot being late with the news...

PA prediction? (2, Informative)

Napalm Boy (17015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822748)

Radioactive [penny-arcade.com] scorpions [penny-arcade.com] ?

It's been done.

Insert... (1)

LeoHat (415705) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822776)

... obligatory Spiderman joke here.

Re:Insert... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823542)

Scorpion Man, Scorpion Man
Does whatever a scorpion can
He's got acid to dissolve, the guts of thieves with resolve
Look out! Here comes the Scorpion Man.

Can he sting? Listen, Bud, he's got radioactive blood
Can his pincers grab you fast?
Can you say "You bet yer ass"?
Hey there! There goes the Scorpion Man.

KFG

Hard to see how they would target cancer cells (1)

Black-Six (989784) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822799)

I can understand the priciples behind this kind of treatment. Scorpion poison is a heom-nureo toxin (means that it attacks blood and nerve cells) that targets both braches of cancer cells, blood supplies and nerve connections for continued growth. An added benefit is that scorpion venom is relativly safe to humans. In all but the rarest cases that involved serious allergic reactions and death, scorpion sting victims expericed a large welp and severe pain, something like a VERY LARGE bee sting. The part that kinda doesn't make sense here is the radiological material, but I've and heard of an experimental treatment for cancer tumors that involves 10 times the level of normal radiation treatment coures and is done in a single 2 hrs process. The tumor is radiologically tagged and insulated, then a high dose of the elements Mb 117, Molybdenum, U 235, Uranium, and moderator of sorts Boron (check me on this I may be wrong on the elements but I know its a radiological dose none the less) and the tumor disappears in 24-48 hrs and has a success rate of 100%. The only thing I could see the radiological material doing is tagging the cells for destruction and giving guidance to the radioactive scorpion venom to reduce harm to healthy tissue. If this works they may have invented a cancer proof cure for cancer.

You're the resident expert... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822876)

Can you answer this one for me. They're talking about using this in conjunction with chemotherapy, which is notoriously toxic to the body. However, the scorpion venom will have spectral absorbtion properties totally unlike anything in the brain, which means that if you tune a microwave to that unique frequency, it'll cook the cancer cells in the vicinity of the venom and will leave the rest of the brain completely untouched.


It would seem, at first glance, that this tagging mechanism would be ideal for treatments that can be finely targetted onto that mechanism, but that it isn't going to be nearly so effective as simply a means of weakening what's left for the chemo to get.


However, this is so blindingly obvious that, since it wasn't mentioned, there's an advantage to chemo -or- a disadvantage to my suggestion that I'm missing and is amazingly obvious to these guys. Any idea on what that might be?

Re:You're the resident expert... (2, Interesting)

Black-Six (989784) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823008)

You make an excellent point about tuning microwaves to the frequency of the venom to cook cancer cells, but there are just to many variables here for it to even be considered, not now anyway. First of all, the way a microwave oven works is to induce heat by adding electrons to fatty cells, that's why meat gets warmer faster than bread. Doctors wouldn't go for this due to the fact they could scramble brains even with only a few seconds exposure. Second of all, microwaves experience the same problems as laser beams do in atmosphere's. Nitrogen is a great scatterer of IR and EM waves thus the Northern Lights due to solar wind, also one has to take into account the varying layers of material to be penetrated and not to be fried by microwaves to reach the venom tagged cells. A design team would have to use the very lattest in computer processing power, both hardware and software, to produce a system that could calculate, tune, and react within naon seconds of a very long series of commands, 100-200 million calcs/nanosec, to even begin to be capable of developing a safe and controllable enviroment in which to treat people. Lastly, life evolves. To quote Dr. Malcom from Jurassic Park "Life will find a way.". Every few years, or even every few months, the systen would requier massive updates and overhauls to adapt to the new biological structures being used in it. These last 2 items aren't cost effective and as has been shown with the ABL, are very frustrating and time consuming. Your idea isn't flawed, its briliant. However, our current understanding of Quantum Mechanics is such that laser's and microwaves are about as far as we can develope hardware successfully. To activate the venom and not scramble the patient, you would need something akin to a remote for a TV to activate the venom. A single burst of commands to the venom instead of seconds of agitant microwaves would be far safer and much easier to use than tuning a microwave to each individuals own "frequency" so as to not kill your patient. This could lead to the Star Trek breed of nanoprobes used by the Borg, but to save life instead of take it.

The use of chemo still is that its the most effective way to treat cancer. However with treatments like this on the horizon, we could see a revoultion in the field of medicare within a few decades and definitly my lifetime. The world needs creative minds to continue to florish, so keep at it!

Re:You're the resident expert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15823059)

First of all, the way a microwave oven works is to induce heat by adding electrons to fatty cells, that's why meat gets warmer faster than bread.

Score: -1, Odd

Re:You're the resident expert... (1)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823379)

The basic idea of chemotherapy is to carefully administer poison. Enough to kill off the tumor. Not enough to kill off the patient.

Having gone through treatment for lymphoma (MALT), not bad (for me personally) but has to depend on individual reactions.
I kept the hair on top of my head but lost my eyebrows and eyelashes.

Re:Hard to see how they would target cancer cells (1)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823367)

Radioactive tagging is kinda standard anytime you want to be able to determine where the chemical goes or what it reacts with. And how much.
The tagging is NOT going to assist anything chemically (otherwise it would be east to separate U235 from natural uranium). If the targeted cells have a large affinity for some unusual chemical, then a radioactive version of that chemical will deliver a concentrated dose. If nothing else has an affinity for it, then nothing else will be much bothered. The ideal is some exotic brew that only the tumor wants.

Re:Hard to see how they would target cancer cells (2, Interesting)

Punko (784684) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824210)

The important thing is to find a protein that latches on the the cancer cells and not normal cells. There are many proteins out there for the different kinds of cancer. For this brain cancer, it appears that they have found such a protein. They will probably 'tag' the protein with radioactive (beta or beta/gamma emitters, not alphas like uranium) iodine (I-131 or I-128) or yittrium (Y-90) or phosphorous (P-32) (depending on the chemistry and the dose required). They will not use heavy metals like Uranium as the half-life is too long. The radioactive package will be released wherever the protein is. If the protein sticks to the cancer cell, then the cancer cell gets most of the dosage. The brain is fairly radiation-safe, as radiation kills cells that are actively reproducing (like cancer cells). Brain cells haven't been reproduced since entering adulthood. Radiation taggin therapy is not new. The fact that they have found a protein to bind to this kind of cancer cell is very new.

Re:Hard to see how they would target cancer cells (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824614)

I am a radiation oncologist. I haven't read the article, but the process, in general, isn't anything new. Many examples exist of radioactive substances (I-125 most commonly) bound to proteins/antibodies which bind to specific targets. It sounds like there is something in the venom protein which makes its binding specific to tumor cells. This places the radioactive iodine in proximity to the tumor cells.


The BEST reported median survival with glioblastoma multiforme, with the most aggressive treatment, is about 13 months. However, this does not preclude some patients from being alive longer. It does not sound, to me, like this treatment is really any better than anything else currently out there. (But, again, I haven't read the article.)


Most similar treatments of this type for glioma tend to bind I-125 to epidermal growth factor receptor, which is tumor-specific (though not all gliomas overexpress it).

More treatments (4, Informative)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822811)

Hey folks -- take an honest listen for a moment. I don't want to come off as a new-age hippie, but honestly, the amazon rain forest has millions of poisonous bugs that we currently know nothing about. If you take a trip into the jungle and are a bug-watcher like I am, chances are you will see dozens of insects that currently aren't recognized by science.

The amazon jungle is full of life, and it's all practically poisonous plants and insects. Think about it -- the biggest predator in the jungle is man, and jaguars are a close second, coming in at about 70 pounds. All of the biomass in the jungle is bound up in plants and insects. There has been no downtime in the evolution of living things in the jungle for the past several million years. There is no winter, no dead non-metabolising topsoil -- animals and plants just eating and mating and reproducings generation after generation. The ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin says that the jungle is chemical warfare that has been going on for millions of years.

When I was on an excursion in the jungle of Ecuador, I decided to take a small hike during some downtime in the program. Foolishly I wore only sandals on my feet. Not 15 minutes down the trail, I felt dozens of ants biting my foot. Panicked, I reached down to brush them all off, but there was only three or four ants on my foot! When they bit into my skin, I didn't feel anything, but moments later, I would feel several bites in different places on my foot.

So my long-winded point is that there are millions of potential cancer cures out there, all kinds of medications and interesting chemicals. All of the chemical defenses plants and animals evolve work by interrupting or changing the normal cellular functioning of living organisms. The difference between medicine and poison is a question of dosage, as Plotkin paraphrased Paracelsus. We really need to work hard to make sure that this incredible resource stays around for future research. I don't know specifically what you and I can do, but awareness is the first step.

Re:More treatments (1)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823002)

I agree with you wholeheartedly. The jungle truly is God's laboratory.

I'd also like to tank you for reinforcing a long-standing theory of mine: The only people who call the jungle a rain forest are the people who've never had to spend a night in it. :)

Re:More treatments (2, Interesting)

Unc-70 (975866) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823476)

The trouble with this concept is that its a difficult process. The structures of chemicals from natural sources may be extremely complex, more so than is possible to produce on a large scale. The following links are from a blog by a professional medicinal chemist, who has a lot of experience in the area and offer a good deal of insight into the process of deriving a drug from natural sources.
1 http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2006/04/26/ju ngle_rot.php [corante.com]
2 http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2006/04/30/al l_natural.php [corante.com]
3 http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2006/05/08/a_ natural_wonder_drug_now_what.php [corante.com]

Re:More treatments (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15823786)

So my long-winded point is that there (in tropical forest) are millions of potential cancer cures out there...
And millions of potential nasty new diseases. Better safe than sorry - I say we nuke'em.

Re:More treatments (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824272)

Nah, new diseases mostly arise in places where lots and lots of infectible humans live together (syphilis, smallpox), or infectible humans live together with lots and lots of the same species of infectible animal (plague, bird flu). The exceptions (HIV, Kufu) tend to come when humans do really weird shit (and for pretty much the same underlying reasons).

Re:More treatments (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824711)

I see what you are saying. Chop down all the trees, and we have access to a huge range of medicines and drugs... what are we waiting for. I ll get my axe and meet you in Brazil.

Re:More treatments (1)

chookachook (911406) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825011)

It was not that long ago I read a scary sounding article that suggested that at least one promising research project, I think it was involving garlic, was cancelled because you cannot patent garlic. Now I can't find the link, and I have no idea how reliable the article was at any rate (maybe somebody else has seen it), but it does sound plausible that the large research companies might not be as interested in investigating the natural world if natural materials could not be "owned and controlled" and via patents.

Re:More treatments (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825323)

Oh god, I'm outing you. Everyone take note this looney is a Kevin Trudeau fan.

This is why its important to read labels! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822813)

Side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and turning into a Marvel supervillian.

How'd they come up with that? (3, Funny)

JavaNPerl (70318) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822849)

Patient: Doc I'm still in terrible pain, is there anything else you can do for my cancer?
Doctor (whispers): Nurse. What do we have to euthanize this patient and put him out of his misery?
Nurse (whispers): We got some radioactive scorpion venom, that should be quick.
Doctor: 100 CCs of radioactive scorpion venom, stat!
-NURSE INJECTS VENOM-
Patient: I feel better.
Doctor & Nurse in unison: Holy Sh*t!

Waste of money (0, Flamebait)

fuchsite (992067) | more than 7 years ago | (#15822901)

Why is the government funding research which only benefits a few people when we still lack a space program that will save the whole species if a massive asteroid hits us? Where are the priorities? This is worse than spending money on new drinking-water wells in India when children lack basic things like laptops!

Alive... but at what cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15822908)

Furthermore, two study patients were still alive nearly three years after the treatment.

Sure, these two are alive. But each has now surpassed 150 meters in height, and continue to grow in size and power. Scores of thousands are dead in Washington, San Francisco and Tokyo. A dozen Army divisions and half the navy have been wiped out. And they're still out there on the loose, somewhere in the mountain wilderness, gathering strength for their next attacks. Things look very bleak right now, and joking about how they're "cured" is highly inappropriate given the current circumstances.

I for one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15823032)

... just can't bring myself to finish the joke.

Don't go wading in it (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823044)

without your radiation suit ..or invulnerability. That works too.

Just great. (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823078)

This is just great, sigh. My wife died from Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) in January, just 7 weeks after diagnosis in November. The average life expectancy for GBM (grade IV Glioma) patients is 4 to 18 months. Only a handful of the 14,000 / year live past 24 months. I hope this proves effective and saves many, many lives.

My world, however, will remain dark.
Remember Sue...

Re:Just great. (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824523)

My sympathies, truly. Let's hope few others have to go through that pain.

Random crap post (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15823259)

Then doctors injected their brains with a solution of radioactive iodine and TM-601...

Ah, the dawn of the return of POKeMON is upon us. A TM-level that high has never been seen, even those moves trained in by Mew-Two.

Oblig. Sealab 2021, "All That Jazz" (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823359)

Captain Murphy: Come on, come on, what are you waiting for?! Daddy needs his medicine.

Re:Oblig. Sealab 2021, "All That Jazz" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15824727)

Oh, it's *you*, Ben!

I for one..... (0, Redundant)

Lissajous (989738) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823461)

.....welcome our Radioactive Scorpion Overlords.

(oblig.)

Biology Related to Chlorotoxin (5, Informative)

obiwanjabroni (619615) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823495)

Howdy,

The effectiveness of chlorotoxin in treatment of glioblastomas was discovered by a scientist here at my institution (http://www.neurobiology.uab.edu/Faculty/Sontheime r/Sontheimer.htm [uab.edu] ). Glioblastoma is hypothesized to be so deadly because of the ability of cancer cells inside the brain to quickly migrate from the primary site to other sites within the brain, quickly invading normal brain tissue. This makes surgery or radiation not very effective, since migrating cells may be hidden within normal brain that is not irradiated or cut out. The migratory ability of glioblastoma cells is related to its unique ability to change size and morphology to move in between normal brain cells.

The size-changing migratory ability is related to a specific chloride ion channel that expresses highly and uniquely on certain brain cancer cells, including gliomas (PubMed ID: 8804043, 8967454). Chlorotoxin, a chloride channel inhibitor discovered in 1993 (PubMed ID: 8383429) was more interestingly found to bind to this glioma-specific chloride ion channel in mice in 1998 (PubMed ID: 9809993) and humans in 2002 (PubMed ID: 12112367). Although it was shown that chlorotoxin failed to inhibit migratory ability due to size-change, chlorotoxin was shown to inhibit migration by inhibition of another protein involved in breaking down the extracellular matrix, allowing cells to more easily migrate.

The strategy that TransMolecular uses to treat gliomas lies in the specificity of expression of the channel to which chlorotoxin binds. That channel is expressed on the vast majority of glioma tissue samples tested, and only rarely on normal tissue. If one attaches a weak or short-lasting radioactive moiety to chlorotoxin, a potential treatment can be to target glioma cells using chlorotoxin, and then kill them by short-lasting localized radiation. This strategy is already being used in Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and other diseases by attaching to tumor- targeting antibodies a radioactive iodine atom.

I for one welcome our.... (1)

gijoel (628142) | more than 7 years ago | (#15823849)

I for one welcome our radioactive Scor... save us Spidey, save us.

How it works.. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824321)

Upon injection, the Scorpion [wikipedia.org] molecules each seek out tumor cells, whip tiny hooked protein chains at them, and shout "GET OVER HERE!" while violently yanking them out of the brain tissue.

New Super Hero (1)

colin8651 (827971) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824445)

And they will call him "Scorpio"; he who fights crime one sting at a time.

Not a breakthrough (1)

Chris whatever (980992) | more than 7 years ago | (#15824565)

Ok they say 2 out of the 18 patients were still alive after 2 years? that means 16 died from their cancer, so how is this study any good?

I mean if they said that 13 of the 18 patient still lived then it would suggest a real breakthrough and a valid treatment but come on, two out of 18 is 11% success, that hardly counts.

Radioactive Scorpion Venom ?!?!? (1)

GSwarthout (896713) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825093)

And I suppose that this is administered by dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark, they shoot bees at you?

Farming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15825192)

Everybody thought I was really strange back when I started this scorpion farm. But I knew it would pay off some day. Now I'm in position to monopolize this market. Nobody else out there can come anywhere close to the 2 gallons of venom a day that I can harvest.

New Developments.... (1)

Apostata (390629) | more than 7 years ago | (#15825237)

The female test subjects who went on to bear children jealously kept their offspring on their backs as they foraged for proteins in the forest.
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