“97 percent of cancer drugs fail”
| How many mice-study findings work in humans? “Almost none.”
STAT – So it happened again. An underreported story about a half-baked advance in cancer medicine caught fire and scorched its way through social media, onto network TV, and into the minds of millions of people.
To start, no. There won’t be “a complete cure for cancer” in a year’s time, as the chairman of a small Israeli biotechnology firm predicted to the Jerusalem Post.
The claim, absurd on its face, was particularly frustrating to those who work in medicine and drug development because it seemed so obvious there was not enough evidence to make it.
It doesn’t take a lot of complicated biology to understand why. Health Myths Most People Believe In
You simply need the information contained in the Jerusalem Post’s article: that the data available so far are from a single study in mice and that they have not been published in a scientific journal.
Studies with mice rarely work
Saying that most experiments in mice don’t translate to human beings doesn’t quite get the point across.
It’s more correct to say that almost none of them do.
According to the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the odds of a medicine being tested in human beings proving safe and effective enough for widespread use are just 1 in 10.
Another analysis by MIT economists gives slightly better odds, of 1 in 7. 7 Sexual Health Myths That Won’t Go Away
But both groups agree that the chances of success for cancer drugs are far worse than the norm: 1 in 20, according to BIO, and 1 in 30 according to the otherwise more optimistic MIT group.
Stated another way, up to 97 percent of cancer drugs fail. What’s more, the Israeli company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), is at an earlier stage in the development of its drug, a point at which its odds are still lower. 3 Health Myths We Need to Forget We Ever Heard
The Jerusalem Post article says that the company has finished its first experiment in mice, but that it hopes to begin clinical trials that could be completed in a few years. Read more.
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