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Cancer Fighting Drug Found in Dirt

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the a-shovel-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away dept.

Biotech 184

firesquirt writes "From an article in LiveScience, the bark of certain yew trees can yield a medicine that fights cancer. Now scientists find the dirt that yew trees grow in can supply the drug as well, suggesting a new way to commercially harvest the medicine."

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The official site! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18881981)

The official site! [goatshe.cx]

Re:The official site! (0, Offtopic)

The Mysterious X (903554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882003)

Heh, pity there isn't a +1, original mod really.

Re:The official site! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882071)

Heh, pity there isn't a +1, original mod really.

More a +1, Still disgusting, but at least Rabid Hetro Slashdotter sensibilities aren't offended.

Re:The official site! (0, Offtopic)

moogs (1003361) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882365)

haha... that i didn't mind looking at :P

Next headline... (5, Funny)

wbren (682133) | more than 7 years ago | (#18881989)

"Pharmaceutical company patents dirt; Critics claim prior art"

Re:Next headline... (3, Interesting)

delire (809063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882209)

Your joke points to a sad reality however, that it's only through patenting cures (ie having a monopoly over a cure) can pharmaceutical companies (free enterprises) get the investment capital to develop medicines. Cures are IP, traded and guarded.

Moreso, the last thing any pharmaceutical monopoly can afford is for people to get better very easily. For this reason cures are highly guarded discoveries: there are many cures around we don't have access to, and perhaps never will, either because they threaten an existing sickness market or because the IP pushes the price up beyond our reach. Just because we hear about a cure doesn't mean we'll ever see that cure in the wild. Expand this grim fact 100 fold in places like Africa or India where the cost of IP literally comes between them and surviving an otherwise perfectly cureable disease (if only production and distribution were the only cost).

In many respects sickness itself is a managed resource and pharaceutical patents - as a monopoly of a cure - are an active ingredient in this logic.

Re:Next headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882719)

> Moreso, the last thing any pharmaceutical monopoly can afford is for people to get better very easily. For this reason cures are highly guarded discoveries: there are many cures around we don't have access to, and perhaps never will, either because they threaten an existing sickness market or because the IP pushes the price up beyond our reach.

I'm sure I've seen this situation -- research costs and extreme customer advantages at paying an arm and a leg before -- but where?

Ah, no time to philosophical talks... I have to close my Firefox browser, turn off my Linux PC and go to work, where several .docs and .xlss await me. Good thing Office can deal with them reasonably well.

Ah, what the... this is too important. Here's the answer: competition, choice and knowledge available to all (this is confusingly called "free").

Re:Next headline... (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882737)

Your joke points to a sad reality however, that it's only through patenting cures (ie having a monopoly over a cure) can pharmaceutical companies (free enterprises) get the investment capital to develop medicines. Cures are IP, traded and guarded.


I dunno, they do a fairly good job of charging a fortune for diagnostic equipment, consumables, etc. For example, diabetics' glucometers take tiny little sticks which seem to be mainly plastic and cotton wool, and are used and disposed of at a rate of four or five per day, per diabetic. These cost £0.50 per stick in the UK. Maybe there's some rare mineral in those sticks, but I doubt it.

Re:Next headline... (4, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882797)

For this reason cures are highly guarded discoveries: there are many cures around we don't have access to, and perhaps never will, either because they threaten an existing sickness market or because the IP pushes the price up beyond our reach. Just because we hear about a cure doesn't mean we'll ever see that cure in the wild
Surely there are researchers involved in finding these hidden cures you refer to. Why don't any of them blow the whistle on this massive conspiracy?

Re:Next headline... (2, Informative)

delire (809063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882917)

Why don't any of them blow the whistle on this massive conspiracy?
Because it's not a consipiracy. It's good common sense capitalism.

Re:Next headline... (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883329)

Surely even multi-billionaires have loved ones who get sick from these diseases? Why don't they pay to have the drugs developed so the cures can be available, even if only to those who are rich enough to afford it? Generally it takes less than a billion dollars to have the drug fully approved by the FDA. It takes much less to fund a small clinical trial to investigate whether a drug is effective. There are plenty of billionaires around with enough money to throw around to develop these cures, if only they existed.

Re:Next headline... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883859)

Because it's not a consipiracy. It's good common sense capitalism.

So, what you're saying is that all of the researchers who worked so long, and hard when they developed the cure for muscular distrophy back in the 1980s are being paid hush money, and that's why they have those telethons?

I'll admit that at a glance it looks like you could make more money treating the symptoms than curing the disease. The problem is that once a cure is developed, you have to suppress the researchers, many of whom are motivated by the desire to cure diseases. One of them is eventually going to talk, or to take their knowledge to a competing firm. Sure, that firm may not legally be able to produce the same drug, but they may be able to tweak it enough to get around any patent issues. Then there are the class action lawsuits that arise when the public finds out you've been holding onto a cure for hayfever so that you can sell more nasal spray. Trust me, I'm cutting myself in on that one.

Re:Next headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18883239)

Surely you have links to specific researchers studying specific molecules for specific illnesses. Because otherwise you'd be, you know, making shit up.

Re:Next headline... (1)

timster (32400) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883027)

Ah, once again, it's the favorite conspiracy theory of the modern age. Cures everywhere, locked up by IP. Somebody finds anti-cancer dirt, but nobody sees enough profit to bring it to market, so people still get sick.

If only it were so simple. So you've discovered some dirt that fights cancer -- so what? We have as many compounds that fight cancer as we have compounds that cause cancer. If you want to really cure people, we're talking scientific medicine, not feel-good natural herbal supplements. That means you need to push your dirt through a huge array of tests to determine what sort of cancer it's really good for, how it compares to the wide array of existing cancer treatments, what the side effects are, etc. It really is 99% perspiration, if by "perspiration" you mean years of expensive research with no guarantee of success. You'll find any number of biotech companies that failed merely because their discovery was just not quite good enough.

Sure, everybody thinks the discovery should be free, except that the truth is discoveries like this have almost no value in the first place; they are everywhere, and they are not "cures" for anything. In general, these things you say we will "never have access to" wouldn't have done us any good, for a reason that we'd spend millions of dollars to discover.

Re:Next headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18883277)

Which is why things like this should be funded by the government. The results should be freely available.

Re:Next headline... (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883349)

Even if a bunch of bureaucrats had the ability to successfully direct a research programme of such a scale, every dollar you'd save from the "eevil corparashunz" would cost ten in administration.

Re:Next headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18883043)

If this actually is a cure, it will never see the light of day. A watered down "treatment" version will likely appear, though.

Why cure something when you can gouge someone for the rest of their life?

Re:Next headline... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18883525)

"threaten an existing sickness market "

How the individuals that are aware of this reality and operate the corporations that walk this line live with themselves is beyond comprehension.

Re:Next headline... (2, Funny)

WallaceAndGromit (910755) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882553)

... 8 year old sued for telling friend to eat dirt.

Re:Next headline... (1)

odourpreventer (898853) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882559)

Yep, they're gonna dig up the dirt on this one. (Sorry, force of habit.)

Requiem for Macintosh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882629)

The artists moved to the Mac in 1984 for the user interface to make their art. They generated applications, hypercard stacks,applescripts, performance spaces like the apple store soho would eventually become, text and picture clippings, art galleries (tekserve).etc., due to their highly developed aesthetics.

these artists-- these creative designers, musicians, scientists, and programmers-- stayed on the Mac during the interregnum when apple was a decaying mess and, respecting the Gestalt manager, built their applications out of dilapidated but beautiful Toolbox code.

The pencil-pushers and accountning brats saw all of this and said, "Hey, that looks cool." "Daddy buy me some of that." But these switcheurs have nothing to contribute except a talent for demanding crap like glossy screens. just what the fuck are you spreadsheet fiddlers doing? nothing beyond fueling the demand for ugly, tragically misdesigned, cookie-cutter applications like Firefox and Azureus. That is why the Mac community has so rapidly gone into its Rococco stage.

The Mac community continues to change and it is becoming very clear that we are loosing our edge-- the subcultures that once thrived on the Mac are all loosing steam to the mainstream. art, music, nightlife, web development. The Mac is so over. very sad indeed.

Re:Next headline... (1)

tritonman (998572) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882761)

More proof that man comes from dirt and not monkeys! God be praised!

In the greater scheme of things... (4, Funny)

mudshark (19714) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882015)

... it's not all about yew, after all. It's the dirt from whence yew came, and where yew shall ultimately return....

Re:In the greater scheme of things... (3, Funny)

mrogers (85392) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882095)

You're barking up the wrong tree.

Re:In the greater scheme of things... (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882157)

'whence' not 'from whence'

You will find many, many instances in literature that use 'from whence'. However, the 'from' is redundant.

Re:In the greater scheme of things... (2, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882615)

Is this Dr. Land Fill?

"It's not about yew!!! You need to get right, and read my latest book: 'I Made Dirt, My Dirt Don't Hurt'".

Many a true word spoken in jest... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883121)

Yew trees normally grow in graveyards (in the UK at least).

Time and time again... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882033)

...we discover these things that the Earth provides us, and yet we learn nothing of protecting it from ourselves.

Silly monkeys.

Re:Time and time again... (1)

superbrose (1030148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882287)

In fact we ostracise those that insist that there are natural alternatives to fight serious diseases which are conventionally either uncurable or unlikely to be cured even with costly conventional treatments involved.

\sigh

Re:Time and time again... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882311)

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my gaaaaaaa SHUT UP you are ostracised for a reason.

Re:Time and time again... (4, Informative)

Skrynesaver (994435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882487)

This is not an alternative to anything, this is a chemical which can be found in yew bark. Do you consider Asprin an alternative remedy? it can be harvested from willow bark after all. As yew is a highly toxic plant I don't recommend chewing on it in the hope of a cure, similarly the concentration of salicylic acid in willow bark is variable and chewing on willow bark will give you ulcers as a result.

Bayer managed to patent not Asprin itself but the process of synthesising it. As I don't believe you can patent discoveries even in the US.

Indeed it is not an alternative (1)

superbrose (1030148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882823)

You are right, paclitaxel is not an unconventional alternative at all, but rather a pharmaceutical marketing dream come true, because Bristol-Myers_Squibb [wikipedia.org] , licensed to commercialise paclitaxel, held an exclusive contract in the harvesting of Pacific yew trees from US government lands [wikipedia.org] .

Also paclitaxel causes cell death both in healthy cells and in cancer cells, and its extraction is quite difficult (costly).

My comment was rather misleading since I was making a general statement rather than commenting specifically on this chemical.

Re:Time and time again... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883321)

imilarly the concentration of salicylic acid in willow bark is variable and chewing on willow bark will give you ulcers as a result.


Hence the reason you concentrate the salicylic acid from the willow bark by making a tea out of it.

Re:Time and time again... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882863)

They are ostracised because they are nutcases and/or quacks who produce no results, but profit from selling people false hope and placebo effect.

You seem to imply that it is somehow hypocritical to use one natural remedy but not another, but the difference is that this one works while the other ones don't.

Re:Time and time again... (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883879)

Produce no results? How many "cured" cancer patients do you know? I've yet to ever hear any doctor say a patient is "cured". They always say the cancer could reappear. That doesn't sound much like a cure to me.

I also think you're mistaking the meaning of "results". Results have varying degrees, and while some "modern" medicine does have more effective, long-term results, you'll find plenty of people who use homeopathic options also have results. Most of those people also note a better standard of living during treatment as a result of homeopathic treatments. These are people who use only homeopathic options, and people who use both modern medicine and "natural" medicine. It's a known fact that marijuana lessens the negative side effects of cancer treatment, for example. Is the person smoking a joint after their chemo a nutcase or quack because pot isn't a modern medicine? Will the pot cure the cancer, no. But it definitely has a result for the cancer patient. I think you'll find most of the "nutcases and/or quacks" aren't people who say modern medicine is bad, but that modern medicine should be supplimented by natural remedies, or vice versa, as the case indicates.

You also seem to be discounting placebo effect. Placebo effect can be very powerful, and I'm sure you can find some cases where a person was "cured" with a placebo. Just because we can't explain it doesn't mean there were no results.

Re:Time and time again... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882381)

Fuck Earth. Take your tree-loving sacrificial rain-dance bullshit back to whatever liberal leaf-licking college you barely crawled tripping off LSD out of with your "degree". We really don't need this tripe. Do you honestly think us "silly monkeys" would have even made a discovery such as this without technology built by a society powered by the very resources you likely eschew? Sure, we've found yet another cancer fighting drug (which is a pretty insubstantial claim, go hit up Google for "cancer fighting drugs" and you'll find a laughable number of such claims in the past decade) in some dirt. This does little more than provide us with a step in the right direction, perhaps a clue towards something that will, in all likelihood, (and this is making the bold assumption that this discovery will build to anything at all besides some bright-eyed scientist's footnote on slashdot.org) be completely artificial in its synthesis.

You're an unscientific babbling Slashtard; I'm amazed at how fast you people creep out of the fucking woodworks to preach your gospel and screed to us. You're rated insightful when you deserve a completely off-topic and even flamebait moderation. You're not talking about the study, you're not talking about the nature of the findings that were reported, you're just shitting all over this discussion with your ignorant cut-throat idealistic diatribe about how stupid we are. Fuck.

Surely your like-minded goons will hop to your aid to hush me, moderating me down and nodding me off as "just a conservative whacko", but I speak for many with "shut the fuck up". If you're such an idealist, go live in a cave and stop promoting the ecosystem-damaging resource consumerism that yes, even your using this computer whose case is likely comprised of many plastics and synthesized oil by-products is promoting. The epic volume of clothes barely covering your gargantuan Slashdotter body? Yep, you guessed it, something you're wearing is likely synthesized as a by-product of crude oil! This preachy shit is getting you nowhere, buddy. Either contribute to the discussion or leave. Don't worry, us silly monkeys will stick around and do the heavy thinking.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled discussion.

Re:Time and time again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882483)

Fuck Earth. Take your tree-loving sacrificial...blah blah blah...

Damn man, you really need to get laid huh? Oh yeah, this is Slashdot, sorry little guy.

Re:Time and time again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882663)

Fuck you, you earth hating piece of shit. People like you go around life and treat everything as if its yours to shit on.

Re:Time and time again... (1)

Seiruu (808321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882771)

'Fuck Earth. Take your tree-loving sacrificial rain-dance bullshit back to whatever liberal leaf-licking college you barely crawled tripping off LSD out of with your "degree".'

Is a very ignorant thing to say. Not to mention bigoted.

'If you're such an idealist, go live in a cave and stop promoting the ecosystem-damaging resource consumerism that yes, even your using this computer whose case is likely comprised of many plastics and synthesized oil by-products is promoting. The epic volume of clothes barely covering your gargantuan Slashdotter body? Yep, you guessed it, something you're wearing is likely synthesized as a by-product of crude oil!'

That almost sounds like: "Cuz we can't catch em all, we might as well not start on any of em". Also, being hypocritical doesn't per definition exclude you from being right, and definitely not in this case. It simply means that you're not (entirely) part of a solution. The fact that humans have a pretty significant negative impact on nature is a fact. What's wrong with being reminded of that FACT once in awhile?

Just because you think science is above this silly old thing known as nature doesn't make it so. Rather, that notion would be the most unscientific thing I've ever heard.

Re:Time and time again... (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882981)

The fact that humans have a pretty significant negative impact on nature is a fact. What's wrong with being reminded of that FACT once in awhile?


Humans have a significant impact on their environment but who's to say its a negative imapact. If we want to play the part of nature for a moment and begin to think in timescales of billions of years then human activity so far is utterly insignificant and since nature has no point of view it's impossible to say whether that insignificant activity was either a positive or a negative one.

The one key FACT about the nature of the Earth so far is that whole species are killed off in their thousands every few hundred million years or so, thousands of square miles of forest are submerged under the ocean and millions of hectares of grazing land is turned into inhospitable desert every couple of millenia.

We may well not be doing ourselves any favours by some of our activity around the world at the moment but simply moaning about evil man apes raping the Earth is helping no one ( and simply not true ) and simply diverts attention from the real actions we could be taking to improve our quality of life.

Re:Time and time again... (1)

Seiruu (808321) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883357)

Humans have a significant impact on their environment but who's to say its a negative imapact. If we want to play the part of nature for a moment and begin to think in timescales of billions of years then human activity so far is utterly insignificant and since nature has no point of view it's impossible to say whether that insignificant activity was either a positive or a negative one.


I'd like to think that in terms of billions of years, nothing really matters relatively, barring the total destruction of Earth, which is rather unlikely. Even if we nuked the entire Earth, certainly within billions of years, it'll go back to being habitable. Don't want to go "tree hugging" on ya, but relatively, that is compared to any other species, I'd argue that we're hands down the most significant in delivery a negative impact. Parasitic even.

We may well not be doing ourselves any favours by some of our activity around the world at the moment but simply moaning about evil man apes raping the Earth is helping no one ( and simply not true ) and simply diverts attention from the real actions we could be taking to improve our quality of life.


That's exactly what's being contrasted right now: nature vs "our" quality of life.

Re:Time and time again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18883083)

At least monkeys are clever enough to throw dirt at each other

Here we go again (5, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882083)

I HATE when people and even pseudoscientific articles talk about a medicine against "cancer". Hell, there is NO cancer. There are CANCERS. Lung cancer has a completly different nature than, say, bllod cancer, ot colon cancer, or skin cancer. Yes, all of them are chaotic grow of the cells, but their nature, symptoms, erradication and even cell behaviour is completly different. It's therefore naive to talk about a "cure for cancer". It's like saying: a drug against virus has been found. Hell! WHAT virus? They are all different!

Re:Here we go again (4, Interesting)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882127)

But do most people know about these differences? Hell, I'll admit that even I have no idea what you're talking about. All I know is that mutations in cells's DNA can cause them to replicate uncontrollably, hence cancer. There are differences in lung/blod/colon/skin cancer? Sounds plausible! ... but I have no idea what they are. To me, and to most normal people, "cancer" encompasses all cancers.

I guess it's like saying a certain finding advances "science". But wait, you say, there are a lot of sciences! Yes, there are, and the finding most likely only really advances one of the sciences ... and yet, we all understand what is meant when we say something advances "science".

Re:Here we go again (1)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882549)

That's exactly why these news articles shouldn't just say "cure for cancer" - because nobody will know that that encompasses a whole range of completely different diseases. Some caused by bacteria, some by viruses, some by mutations, some by inhaling smoke, etc etc etc. The masses will never understand that if nobody tells them.

Re:Here we go again (4, Insightful)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882603)

I don't think people are really that ignorant about the disease. Ask someone for one of the causes of skin cancer and you'll probably get "too much sun without sunscreen", or ask for one for lung cancer and you'll get "cigarette smoke". I think most people understand that there are many different types of cancer that can all be caused by different things, but I don't know if they understand that a cure for one might not be a cure for all, if that was even the initial point of this thread. On the other hand, someone may very well find a single cure for all forms of cancer, in which case, is it really wrong to call it a cure for cancer?

Re:Here we go again (2, Informative)

pointbeing (701902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883263)

But do most people know about these differences? Hell, I'll admit that even I have no idea what you're talking about. All I know is that mutations in cells's DNA can cause them to replicate uncontrollably, hence cancer. There are differences in lung/blod/colon/skin cancer? Sounds plausible! ... but I have no idea what they are. To me, and to most normal people, "cancer" encompasses all cancers.

A common misconception. Cancer is a catch-all term for more than 100 diseases that display similar characteristics - the ability to mask itself from the host immune system, angiogenesis and some cell replication tricks that normal cells can't pull off.

The spousal unit has been undergoing treatment for Stage IV breast cancer for almost eight years - it had already metastasized to her lungs by the time she was diagnosed. Breast cancer in your lungs is still breast cancer and at least as far as medical oncology (as opposed to radiation or surgical oncology) is concerned the treatment is the same.

My father-in-law was treated with a drug called Gemzar for pancreatic cancer a couple of years ago. My wife just finished up Gemzar + Herceptin before we started the current Tykerb + Xeloda regime. Gemzar is first-line chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer but is only indicated in breast cancer after an anthracycline and a taxane have been tried and determined they were ineffective. The Xeloda she's doing now is on the bottom of the breast cancer treatment list but is first line treatment for Stage IV colon cancer.

Different diseases, different treatment.

Re:Here we go again (1)

TheRagingTowel (724266) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882195)

It's like saying: a drug against virus has been found. Hell! WHAT virus? They are all different!
Yes, but a drug that targets viruses specifically, when it will be found, will be revolutionary. There is currently no "antibiotic" against viruses.
Although cancer is another subject, still - these cells should have perform apoptosis [wikipedia.org] and they didn't. Can there be a way to trigger this process in cancer cells?

Re:Here we go again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882211)

But isn't "cure for cancer" and "cure for a cancer" the same?

Calm Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882413)

I thought the whole point was to find traits common to each of these different types of cancer and target those. For instance, I've read that cancerous tissues tend to have a much higher metabolic rate than other tissues. Is this true of all or most cancers, or only a specific one?

Amongst all of the crime, political crap slinging, disasters, and crisis that the news brings to us on a daily basis it's nice to find something resembling progress taking place -- even if it is "dumbed down for the masses" who can't or don't study it.

Re:Here we go again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18883045)

I HATE it when someone talks about medicine for "people". There is NO people. There are INDIVIDUALS. Yes, everyone is similar, but their susceptibilities to diseases, their genetics, and their metabolisms are completely different and many medicines will not work for many people. It is therefore naive to talk about "medicines for people". It's like saying a "medicine for cows" has been found. Hell! WHAT cows? They're all different, too!

Re:Here we go again (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883459)

You make a very valid point. However, there is always the possibility that a cure for one type of cancer can trigger relevant research into curing other types of cancer. Once scientists are able to figure out why one type of cancer grows a certain way, and figure out a way to stop it, they can use their research to hopefully figure out ways to stop other sorts of cancer.

Re:Here we go again (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883717)

Yes and no. Roughly half of all cancers are related to a defect in a protein called p53. There are various p53 defects that can cause cancer and very different cancers can result depending on which cells have which defects. But, for example, if a way were found to introduce wild-type (non-mutated) p53 DNA into these cells via gene therapy, then you'd have a single cure for roughly half of all cancers.

There are similarities in many cancers in how they operate and often, a single drug can be effective against multiple sorts of cancers because of these similarities. I'm actually working on a drug now that appears to be effective in certain types of breast cancer as well as melanoma. melanoma is, in many ways, very different from any kind of breast cancer. But melanoma also has some similarities in how it operates and we may yet discover that it's effective against other types of cancer.

While it's unlikely that a single drug will be found that's effective against ALL kinds of cancer, I don't think it's entirely incorrect, especially for an article meant for the lay person, to describe a drug as an "effective cancer treatment" vs. listing each individual type of cancer that the drug is useful against. It's not a journal article. If you want to know the specific types of cancers involved, then go look up the journal articles.

And you though RMS was just a smelly hippie (2, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882109)

When it turns out he is a shower dodger to avoid cancer.

Wow (4, Funny)

Tawg (1078217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882137)

Now this is what i call a cancer Treetment.

Re:Wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882379)

Don't yew mean dirtment?

Well i never.... (1)

Tawg (1078217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882169)

And just when yew'd thought yew'd heard it all.

It's Soil (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882187)

I can still hear the words of my college biology instructor from 30 years ago: "It's not dirt, it's soil."

Re:It's Soil (1)

Tawg (1078217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882313)

I think that it's actually dirt in this instance, if it wasn't how would it be linked to the pee-yew?

so close (1)

zsbyd (1037486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882231)

Its right in front of us and underneath us!

Twofo Sucks Cocks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882243)

Twofo Sucks Cocks [twofo.co.uk]

Pacific Yew (3, Interesting)

Tawg (1078217) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882245)

It's quite interesting to note that one of the species of yew mentioned (i assume the most useful at yielding the drug) has been classified as NT (Near threatened) [wikipedia.org] .
This basically means the species is "considered threatened with extinction in the near future". With such a large area of yew trees producing such a small amount of drug, careful measures are going to have to be taken so as not to kill off our new hope for a cancer cure. It's also quite interesting to note that the yew only grows to about 15metres, and so much smaller than what i would know as a (european) yew tree.

Re:Pacific Yew (1)

NorthWestFLNative (973147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883129)

The class of drugs that are extracted from the yew tree are the taxanes. Although the Pacific Yew may be scarce, there's also one other type of taxane, Docetaxel [wikipedia.org] that's derived from the European yew tree. Not being an oncologist (just someone who's been treated with Docetaxel) I'm not completely familiar with the differences between the two are, but according to Wikipedia Paclitaxel [wikipedia.org] is more potent than other taxanes.

Finding that the soil around a yew tree can be a source of taxanes should help prevent the loss of the Pacific Yew though.

Hyphenation nazi (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882249)

How can cancer fight a drug? And why is the drug found in the dirt?

Oh, you mean `Cancer-fighting drug found in dirt'.

How is this news? (1)

kypper (446750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882265)

Drug companies do this all the time [wikipedia.org] . It's a hell of a lot faster and cheaper than rational drug design [wikipedia.org] .

Re:How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18883117)

The yew compound (from TFA) was discovered by the taxpayer-funded screening half a century ago, then handed over to the drug companies as taxol to get rich

Will this make cancer treatment dirt cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882279)

Keep dreaming.

Re:Will this make cancer treatment dirt cheap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882403)

Its free in the UK and other countries.

nig6a (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882309)

to m4ke sure t1he [samag.com] in the

So much for our parents telling us not to eat dirt (2, Insightful)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882385)

So much for our parents telling us not to eat dirt as kids.

Profit at the lowest levels... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882411)

Pharm. companies are going to be able to process this at the lowest levels (literally), while still being able to charge us $75/pill for the "cure"? Anyone else see the twisted irony of being dirt broke (slaps knee) after you have to pay for 2 years worth of cancer(read soil) treatments?

Re:Profit at the lowest levels... (1)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882613)

Does that mean you will now be soiling yourself to get well? Coz I grew out of those a few years back...

Re:Profit at the lowest levels... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882695)

Chance are it won't be as cheap[ to mprocess as you think. Transporting dirt on a medical "clean" way will be expensive along with extracting the drug and such. It will be more likely that it would be synthesized if possible and this will give new sources of reference to play with.

Even of the drug isn't able to be synthesized, planting something that could extract the drug and then processing that might be a better solution. There are certain plants that absorb chemicals/minerals/vitamins and a lot of other things from the ground were they are planted. Onions are probably one of the most flamboyant of these that we come into contact with every day. (think sulfur and vidalia onion)

Surprisingly, I think one of the medical strains of tobacco might be the best opportunity here. They can produce a synthetic blood plasma form it and it this plasma could carry a drug through the body in it's raw active state, it might be more effective. Can you imagine instead of going for chemotherapy once a week, they just give you an IV of blood plasma for an hour? I would hope something like this could be found but I'm totally guessing at it.

Cancer Fighting Drug Found in Dirt (4, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882425)

*tch*

The things people throw away these days...

Eat dirt and... live? (1)

gnurfed (1051140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882451)

Damn! This means the phrase "eat dirt and die" will be so outdated, unless said to a tumor.

It isn't a new medicine just a new way to get it (3, Informative)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882475)

The headline makes it sound like a new wonder drug was found. According to the article, this drug was found in 1967. So it's been around for quite a while. They've just found that the soil around the trees end up with the drug in it to. Thus when they harvest the drug, they can harvest the soil to get more of it at one time. Nothing new cure wise, just a better way for drug companies to produce a product.

This is the Wiki on the drug (1)

MSRedfox (1043112) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882495)

Paclitaxel is a drug used in the treatment of cancer. It was discovered at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in 1967 when Monroe E. Wall and Mansukh C. Wani isolated the compound from the bark of the Pacific yew tree, Taxus brevifolia, and noted its antitumor activity in a broad range of rodent tumors. By 1970, the two scientists had determined the structure of paclitaxel. Paclitaxel has since become an effective tool of doctors who treat patients with lung, ovarian, breast cancer, and advanced forms of Kaposi's sarcoma.[2] It is sold under the tradename Taxol. Together with docetaxel, it forms the drug category of the taxanes. Paclitaxel is also used for the prevention of restenosis (recurrent narrowing) of coronary stents; locally delivered to the wall of the coronary artery, a paclitaxel coating limits the growth of neointima (scar tissue) within stents.[3] Paclitaxel drug eluting coated stents are sold under the trade name Taxus by Boston Scientific in the United States. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paclitaxel [wikipedia.org]

It's a good drug (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882477)

I was one of the guinea-pigs that tested it. It worked incredibly well, better than the alternative at the time which hadn't worked for me leaving me with a choice of taking part in the experiment or trying a large dose of the other medicine with little chance of success.

I'd heard at the time that it was becoming viable because they'd found a way of synthesising it using chemicals extracted from the needles of the tree, so reducing the impact on the tree. If they can get hold of it with less impact on the tree then that's great!

As a point to all those people who think of "natural remedies" as harmless and western medicine as evil: I was treated with yew tree bark and some fungus. These two nearly killed me even in the precisely controlled doses, doses that had been determined through the deaths of some thousand or so rats rather than trial and error on some thousand or so humans. Now many thousands of humans can be saved from what is quite a nasty death thanks to this new treatment.

Natural remedies are just the same as any other item taken into the body. They can be good, or can cause harm. Unfortunately in this case, animal experiments did work very well and in my opinion have caused net good.

Re:It's a good drug (1)

Rixel (131146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882815)

psst......you got the placebo.

All kidding aside, I thought patients weren't supposed to be notified if they were the control or not.

Non-science Slashdot editors at night (1)

methano (519830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882543)

I wake up and find an articles on finding drugs in dirt and capturing CO2 from the air. A whole lot of drugs were originally isolated from organisms that grow in dirt, most of the antibiotics probably. This is not news. Also, any chemist should know how to capture CO2 from the air. But can you do it efficiently enough to reverse the greenhouse effect. On thermodynamic grounds alone, I'd say it's not possible except by planting a lot of trees to store all the CO2. My point is that the science watch on /. goes a little weak over night.

Re:Non-science Slashdot editors at night (1)

Trent Hawkins (1093109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883773)

Yeah, I don't become excited about topics with "cure for cancer found" in the title. There seems to be a new one of these each week.

Truthfully I use to be worried about hem actually finding a cure. That'd be the end of my current job, but thankfully it's always a "treatment" which is a nice way of saying "we're going to keep e'm on this drug for the rest of their lives!".

On the other side (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882587)

Cancer Fighting Dirt Found in Drugs

big pharma's dirty little secret: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882649)

cheaper generics are already available under millions if American couches.

Hopefully (2, Funny)

chanrobi (944359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882711)

It'll be dirt cheap for those who need it

Re:Hopefully (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883111)

If only this were the case, but most likely it will be the most expensive dirt anyone has ever bought!

slash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882727)

With all the problems in the world like cancer and hunger and war, we sit here getting all flamed up over the most recent version of....

oh wait...

It's good, clean soil. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882755)

Dirt is what's under your fingernails. Plants grow in earth or soil.

Re:It's good, clean soil. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882951)

Yep. But soil does get dirty when humans pollute it, for instance with plastics, rusty old nails, broken glass, bits of computer hardware ...

New Product (1)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882781)

And they're going to call this new commercial product: Yew Tubes !!

Thank you and goodnight.

Aikon-

Moongate =Profit (1)

Rixel (131146) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882791)

Well, I'm off to Sosaria and make me some coin!
(and maybe kill some guards)

Verizon Suing Live Science (1)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882855)

Claiming they created the dirt and hold the patent for it, and anyone wishing to use the dirt must pay $39.99 a month to obtain it...local charges apply.

Kid oath.... (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882857)

I guess that thing I said as a kid to go ahead and eat my dirty food was true (after dropping on ground):

"god made dirt, dirt don't hurt...."

It's not the tree - it's the microbes (4, Interesting)

csoto (220540) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882871)

Most people forget that all higher organisms depend heavily on micribiota for their survival. For example, most of the complex micronutrients (e.g. B-comlplex vitamins) in plants are generated in soil bacteria. For these drugs, look to the rhizobacteria as the source of the genes for these compounds. The commensal relationships these bacteria sustain with particular plant species could be important, but it's possible these things could be grown in vitro and yield a nice industrial solution.

Barking mad (2, Funny)

ciaran.mchale (1018214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18882881)

So it seems those new age, tree-hugging hippies weren't "barking" mad after all. They "yew" what they were doing all along. And I guess that, as far as pharmaceutical companies are concerned, money does grow on trees after all. Hey, that's "tree" of a kind so far. I'd better stop now and see if I can afford a mortgage on a tree house.

Mount St Helens = Ohio State? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18882887)

The bark of certain yew trees can yield a medicine that fights cancer. Now scientists find the dirt that yew trees grow in can supply the drug as well, suggesting a new way to commercially harvest the medicine.

Scientists originally isolated the drug paclitaxel--now commonly known as Taxol--in 1967 from the bark of Pacific yew trees (Taxus brevifolia) in a forest near the Mount St. Helens in Washington


(emphasis mine)

Well, I guess you could compare Woody Hayes to Mt. St. Helens...

Well, there's a new one... (3, Funny)

Khyber (864651) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883241)

Let the strip-mining operations to cure cancer begin!

Bah, it just goes to show (2, Funny)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883261)

Yews control the medecine market.

Ambiguous headline of the week (0, Redundant)

leoboiko (462141) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883657)

So this cancer is fighting a drug they found in dirt?

Or did they find in dirt some cancer fighting a drug?

Southern Grammar Nazis (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883697)

"Yew trees" ain't right; it's "y'all y'all's trees", yuh damn Yank!

the surprise is they didn't check earlier (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 7 years ago | (#18883887)

it's well-known that black walnut trees make sure they have less competition for water and nutrients by leaching poison out their roots.

so why didn't anybody think to check the ground around yew trees earlier for taxol?

moral: everybody fouls their nest. expect it. what, you never heard of an alpha geek who got fired for being the alpha?
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