by Dr. Eowyn
According to the International Agency for Research, cancer is the second leading cause of death, second only to cardiovascular disease, accountable for every sixth death in the world. Each year, an estimated 18.1 million new cancer cases are diagnosed worldwide.
Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman reports the earth-shaking news for the Jerusalem Post, January 28, 2019, that a team of Israeli scientists believe they “might have found the first complete cure for cancer”.
The company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), is developing the new cancer treatment. Founded by Dr. Ilan Morad in 2000 in Weizmann Science Park in Ness Ziona, Israel, AEBi developed the SoAP platform, a breakthrough technology that allows AEBi to develop drugs to many illnesses, among them cancer.
AEBi chairman of the board Dan Aridor, said:
“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer. Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market. Our solution will be both generic and personal.”
says his company’s cancer treatment — the MuTaTo (multi-target toxin) — is essentially on the scale of a cancer antibiotic – a disruption technology of the highest order.
The potentially game-changing anti-cancer drug is based on SoAP technology, which belongs to the phage display group of technologies. It involves the introduction of DNA coding for a protein, such as an antibody, into a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria. That protein is then displayed on the surface of the phage. Researchers can use these protein-displaying phages to screen for interactions with other proteins, DNA sequences and small molecules.
In 2018, a team of scientists won the Nobel Prize for their work on phage display in the directed evolution of new proteins – in particular, for the production of antibody therapeutics. AEBi is doing something similar but with peptides — compounds of two or more amino acids linked in a chain.
Morad explains that peptides have several advantages over antibodies, including being smaller, cheaper, and easier to produce and regulate.
Morad said that when his company, AEBi, was first founded, “We were doing what everyone else was doing, trying to discover individual novel peptides for specific cancers.” Shortly thereafter, Morad and his colleague, Dr. Hanan Itzhaki, decided they wanted to do something bigger. They wanted to identify why other cancer-killing drugs and treatments don’t work or eventually fail. Then they found a way to counter that effect.
As explained by Morad, this is how AEBi’s multi-target toxin (MuTaTo) is superior to other cancer-fighting drugs/methods:
(1) Most anti-cancer drugs attack a specific target on or in the cancer cell. But mutations in the targets or in their physiological pathways could make the targets not relevant to the cancer nature of the cell, and hence render ineffective the drug attacking the cancer cell. AEBi’s MuTaTo uses a combination of several cancer-targeting peptides for each cancer cell at the same time, combined with a strong peptide toxin that specifically kills cancer cells. Morad explains that by using at least three targeting peptides on the same structure with a strong toxin, “the treatment will not be affected by mutations; cancer cells can mutate in such a way that targeted receptors are dropped by the cancer. The probability of having multiple mutations that would modify all targeted receptors simultaneously decreases dramatically with the number of targets used. Instead of attacking receptors one at a time, we attack receptors three at a time – not even cancer can mutate three receptors at the same time.”
(2) When targeted by drugs, many cancer cells activate detoxification mechanisms by pumping out the drugs or modifying them to be non-functional. But AEBi’s MuTaTo is so strong that “it has a high probability of killing the cancer cell before detoxification occurs, which is what he is banking on”.
(3) Many cytotoxic anticancer treatments aim at fast-growing cells, but cancer stem cells are not fast growing, and so escape these treatments. Worse still, when the treatment is over, the cells can generate cancer again, this time, drug resistant. Morad explains that because cancer cells are born out of mutations that occur in cancer stem cells, most of the overexpressed proteins which are targeted on the cancer cell exist in the cancer stem cells. MuTaTo’s multiple-target attack ensures that they will be destroyed as well.
(4) Some cancer tumors erect shields which create access problems to large molecules, such as antibodies. But MuTaTo, with very small peptides (12 amino acids long), acts like an octopus or a piece of spaghetti and can sneak into places where other large molecules cannot reach.Morad explains, “This should make the whole molecule non-immunogenic in most cases and would enable repeated administration of the drug.”
(5) Most cancer treatments have sickening side-effects from the treatments interacting with the wrong or additional targets, or the correct targets but on non-cancerous cells. Morad said MuTaTo would “dramatically” decrease those side-effects because it specifically targets cancer cells and, “in most cases,” avoids targeting non-cancer cells that have a protein in common with the cancer cells.
Morad compares MuTaTo to the triple drug cocktail that has helped change AIDS from being an automatic death sentence to a chronic – but often manageable – disease, so that people with AIDS today are HIV carriers, “but they are not sick anymore::
“We used to give AIDS patients several drugs, but we would administer them one at a time. During the course of treatment, the virus mutated, and the AIDS started attacking again. Only when patients started using a cocktail, were they able to stop the disease.”
Unlike the triple-drug AIDS cocktail that patients must take throughout their lives, MuTaTo would kill the cancer cells outright. This means the treatment could likely end after only a few weeks.
The MuTaTo cancer treatment will eventually be personalized. Each patient will provide a piece of his biopsy to the lab, which would then analyze it to know which receptors are “overexpressed”. The individual would then be administered exactly the molecule cocktail needed to cure his disease.
Morad said that AEBi has concluded several in-vitro trials and its first exploratory mice experiment, in which MuTaTo inhibited human cancer cell growth with no effect at all on healthy mice cells. AEBi chairman Aridor said “Our results are consistent and repeatable.”
AEBi is “on the cusp” of beginning a round of clinical, i.e., human, trials which could be completed within a few years, after which treatment could be available in specific cases.
In other words, AEBi’s claim to have discovered the first complete cure for cancer is somewhat premature. No human trials have been conducted; only in-vitro (test-tube) trials and one rat experiment have been made.