AP NEWS

New Cancer Treatment Has Potential

April 5, 2019

Q: What do you know about the new cancer treatment called MuTaTo? It is being reported as a cure for all cancers. Does it work? A: You’re referring to claims made by Israeli scientists in January, stating that they are about a year away from releasing what they describe as a complete cure for cancer. The treatment is advertised as taking just a few weeks to complete, mostly free of serious side effects, and costing less than treatments currently available. At this time, the researchers have completed a mouse study but have not yet published supporting research materials in a peer-reviewed journal. The therapy has also not undergone any clinical trials. The name MuTaTo derives from the phrase “multi-target toxin.” Unlike existing precision therapies, which mostly focus on a single target in a cancer cell, the Israeli scientists say they have developed a multipronged approach. The idea is that the new therapy will disrupt the growth of cancer cells at several sites and at multiple stages of their development, which will interfere with their ability to mutate. It’s this ability for cancer cells to quickly adapt that allows them to become immune to a specific treatment and thus resume their growth and spread. The Israeli researchers also said that in time, the new therapy would be customizable. That is, each patient’s cancer would be biopsied and analyzed at the molecular level, and a personalized form of the new drug would be created. In the big picture, the researchers have likened their therapy to an antibiotic that will target cancer cells. They also compared the concept behind the therapy to the multiple-drug mixtures that proved to be game-changers in the fight against HIV. The proposed therapy reportedly will also include a toxin that, because it will be precisely targeted, kills cancer cells but spares healthy cells. This would lessen or even eliminate the often-debilitating side effects of existing cancer treatments. Researchers said they will embark on clinical trials soon, with the hope of making their cancer drug available in a few years. The announcement of MuTaTo by the chairman of the board of Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies, the company that is developing the treatment, has been met with a hefty dose of skepticism in the medical community in the United States and worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer, it’s important to keep in mind that the research remains in an early stage. MuTaTo is still at the start of the long and exacting process required to move a potential new therapy from the laboratory bench to a patient’s bedside. ASK THE DOCTORS appears every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It is written by Eve Glazier, M.D., and Elizabeth Ko, M.D. Send questions to askthedoctors@mednet.ucla.edu, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o Media Relations, UCLA Health, 924 Westwood Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA, 90095.