All cancer deaths could be eliminated within 7 years, officials predict

July 10 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: General   Rating: 13 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Former National Cancer Institute Director Andrew von Eschenbach claims that “By 2015, nobody will die of cancer; it may not be cured at that time,” he says, “but innovative new therapies will make the disease manageable and finally bring an end to the pain, suffering, and death that cancer now dishes out.”

In support of von Eschenbach’s claim, 92 US Senators and 275 members of the House signed a “2015 goal letter” that describes how suffering and death from cancer can be eliminated on such an aggressive schedule.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in the US for people under age 85, experts say. One in two men and one in three women will get cancer in their lifetime, and more than 1,500 Americans die every day from this horrific disease; and these statistics have changed very little since America first declared war on cancer in 1950.

So, if in 58 years we have made such little headway in fighting this disease, how can Eschenbach claim we will eliminate cancer deaths in seven years? The answer lies in what some refer to as the “nanotech revolution.” Scientists working with this new technology are creating an impressive array of new cancer therapies and drugs.

The nanotech approach to fighting cancer can be divided into two parts; detection and therapeutic.

Detection systems identify cancer cells before they become dangerous, and if cancer is in remission, predict if it might flare up again; these include:

Quantum Dots – dramatically improves today’s early detection tests. These tiny particles glow and act as markers on cells and genes, enabling doctors to visualize cancer when present or impending. Widespread availability expected within five years. (cont.)

Nanowires – discover prostate and other cancers before conventional tests can. These marvels could one day be implanted as permanent health detectives, monitoring cells 24/7. They could become available in five years.

Lab-on-a-Chip – promises early detection of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other sicknesses. Patients will one day walk into their doctor’s office with this hand-held device, give a few drops of blood, and in minutes, receive a complete health diagnosis. Widespread use expected by early 2010s.

Therapeutic systems non-invasively destroy cancer cells without harming healthy cells; these include:

Carbon Nanotubes and Gold Nanoshells – selectively deliver lethal drugs to cancer cells that explode when exposed to light and heat. Trials are underway now.

Dendrimers – bind only to cancer cells; they fluoresce upon locating genetic mutations; carry drugs released on demand; then signal when cancer cells die. Animal tests are underway now and human trials could begin soon.

Fullerines – deliver radioactive and other toxic drugs to cancer cells, and then leave the body when treatment complete. This product could become available for widespread patient use by as early as 2015 or before.

Nanocomplex – detects and destroys metastatic cancer cells. Its diagnostic and therapeutic functions utilize a microscopic, lipid-based liposome and an antibody, along with gene therapy; clinical studies expected soon.

Can we realistically expect to end cancer deaths in seven years? Economists predict nanotech products will reach $1 trillion by 2015. Driven by this financial push, forward-thinkers believe Americans will soon be enjoying a cancer-free “magical future.”

Realistically, when do you think cancer deaths will be preventable?

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Comment Thread (10 Responses)

  1. I chose option number three; I’m guessing people will still die from cancer until 2025, but that is because I suspect some people don’t want to adopt technology that is permanently inside their body, and will rather choose to die. These people would probably be close to natural death or members of religious groups. Some people tend to think that technology inside their body is “forbidden”. That is the main reason why cancer deaths won’t stop until 2025-2030, when it is inevitable to adopt new technology, or otherwise you will lose your job to automatic system, or cybernetically enhanced humans.

    Posted by: JHE   July 11, 2008
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  2. People will still be dying of cancer and old age in 2075, let alone 2025.

    Posted by: adbatstone80   July 11, 2008
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  3. Adbatstone, your projection of cancer deaths into 2075 gives 37 million Americans and countless other Earthlings a premature death sentence. In fact, many reading this post could be included in your grim forecast. I think everyone is served better with a more positive approach.

    Carbon nanotubes and gold Nanoshells have already been proven to eradicate cancer completely from a human body. However, scientists are not sure if there might be a residual damage caused by these small nanoparticles that we are not aware of today; this is what’s keeping them from FDA approval. Will this problem be resolved by 2015, which would make von Eschenbach’s prediction ring true? This writer believes that they will.

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 11, 2008
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  4. It is silly to say that people won’t die of cancer in 2015. He needs to throw in a few caveats with that like, people who are insured and financially able to afford them, won’t die from cancer. Even if he included these addendums is optimism about the technology is circumspect.

    Posted by: Konkrete   July 11, 2008
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  5. Von Eschenbach first drafted this prediction as a challenge to NCI personnel in January 2004, and one of the criteria was that the therapies that would make this miracle happen must be made affordable to every American regardless of their ability to pay.

    The goal letter that nearly every US congress person signed also included a stipulation that guaranteed the medical therapies involved would be made affordable to everyone.

    Von Eschenbach was smart. He saw that nearly all NCI research facilities at universities around the country were developing nano-research facilities, so he secured budgets to include these new nano facilities.

    Will the pain and death that cancer now deals out be eliminated by 2015? Optimists believe that it will; conservatives think it won’t. I guess time will tell.

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 11, 2008
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  6. I agree with the more optimistic projection of 2015. In addition to the nanotech wonders described above, a number of amazing biotech possibilities exist as well. Full genome sequencing is becoming a realistic option for many enabling both preventative measures to be taken if one is at high risk for developing cancer and allowing for complete tumor profiling to ensure the most appropriate conventional treatment in as timely a fashion as possible. Gene therapy and RNAi therapy have excellent potential for cancer treatment and immunotherapy has become a major possible breakthrough with an exciting clinical trial beginning this summer. With renewed social and political interest in curing this terrible disease and supporting increased NIH budgets, I think Dick’s “Magical Future” is most certainly within grasp.

    Posted by: ChristopherMoody   July 11, 2008
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  7. LIFT Clinical Trial url

    Posted by: ChristopherMoody   July 11, 2008
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  8. Great informational link, ChristopherMoody; thanks

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 12, 2008
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  9. To make my previous post clearer: I believe the possibility to totally eliminate cancer by 2015 is within grasp, but as long as there are biological humans, there will be people that won’t adopt this new technology (Who? See my last post.).

    Von Eschenbach said that the new technology must be made available for every american regardless of their ability to pay. That should mean that the technology is available for even the poorest, with no or just a little money. To make this happen it would require organization and state funding.

    The fact that cancer is eliminated in USA doesn’t mean the whole world is “cancer-free”. It takes probably a year or so when it is known all over the world that effective cancer drug has been developed, and should affordable to anyone anywhere. This is when the first “wave” of mass-adoption starts. When cures to other illnesses and diseases will be developed in the short term future, technology inside your body will become more common. I believe that majority of Earth’s population is “cancer-free” by 2025-2030. The last sign of cancer will vanish when the last biological humans refused to adopt new technology will die at about 2070.

    Posted by: JHE   July 12, 2008
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  10. More good news from the cancer war front: Nanoparticles stop cancer from spreading.

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 13, 2008
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