Curing cancer by 2020: Moonshot strategy by Suf Alkhaldi

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.

The fight to cure Cancer

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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  1. Kamran February 14, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    This is a very ambitious goal and no doubt there
    are brilliant minds at work. Just knowing that
    there are enumerable types of cancers each with
    multiple causative agents makes this task difficult
    as has been the experience since monoclonal
    Antibodies were first described as the magic bullet.
    Hopefully…. This new research described in this
    blog can hit on a common theme of all cancers
    and make a dent!!!!

    1. User Avatar Suf Alkhaldi February 15, 2016 at 12:22 am

      I agree Kamaran, monoclonal antibodies were the hope but it turned out to have limited effectiveness due to the cancer and virus ability to change their sequences all the time, decreasing the specificity of the antibodies. In this Moonshopt 2020 strategy, It relies heavenly on the wide range of these antibodies (at least 200,0000), created by outcome of human genome sequences. This time I am more optimistic. Thank you very much for reading my blog.


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