It is time to start making a dent in cancer. A new Moonshot project was announced just weeks ago by Vice President Biden to cure cancer by 2020. If you think this is an overly ambitious project, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong does not believe so. Dr. Soon-Shiong even has the blueprints for activating the human T-cells to discover and kill cancer cells as soon as the body detects them.
Dr. Soon-Shiong’s company developed the first neoepitope (an antigen, RNA foreign sequence that induces an immune response in the body, producing antibodies), targeting mutant cancer proteins. The stimulated antibodies find cancer cells and prepare them to be destroyed by killer cells. Interestingly, although killer cells have more than 30,000 receptors, capable of finding so many invaders in our body, they still are not able to find cancer cells. Cancer cells, usually disguised as normal cells, cannot be found by the body. Our body does not know the difference between cancer or normal cells in the immunological sense, creating a huge problem for the human body of being too late to successfully overcome the cancer cells. The new strategy of developing vaccines to produce cancer specific antibodies creates new frontiers in fighting cancer, potentially an ambitious strategy to out-perform the chemo and radio therapy treatments as well as surgery.
This revolutionary idea to produce vaccines with specific targets faced a lot of skepticism from the scientific communities. The vaccine, developed from synthetic specific rRNA (RNA binds to Ribosomal proteins) produced specialized antibodies capable of attacking cancer cells. The antibodies attacked the metastatic colon cancer cells in patients in a way analogous to the destruction of a target by a stealth missile. Although the patients tried all kinds of chemotherapy and every line of standard therapy, specific antibodies strategy treatment achieved 30% success, and some patients are still alive after two years — an incredible extension of life compared with the fact that patients with this colon cancer usually die within five months.
So how is whole genomic human DNA sequencing helping the new Moonshot 2020 project?
When cancer cells divide, they create a numerous number of proteins. Each cancer somehow has several proteins produced in the process which cannot be distinguished by the body. After sequencing the human genome, we are aware of around 20,000 human genes producing 200,000 rRNA molecules and 10,000 metabolic pathways (with a number of passenger genes producing passenger proteins). The passenger proteins trick the body into believing that mutant cancer proteins are not foreign. So if we synthesize these 200,000 rRNA molecules to stimulate specific antibodies production capable of recognizing cancer proteins, this will be a great scientific achievement to beat cancer — a significant step towards fulfilling the goal of Moonshot 2020. If you would like to read more about this strategy, please click on this link: curing cancer by 2020
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