Dr. Weeks’ Comment: Your oncologist needs to know that he or she is targeting the WRONG cancer cells and consequently, that you life is endangered! The cancer TUMOR cells (which are targeted by chemo and radiation) are less dangerous than the cancer STEM cells. If you need to be blunt – be so. Your life is at stake. Ask your doctor to learn about doctoring your cancer STEM cells.
I have lectured on this revolutionary therapeutic concept over the past 6 years (here, here, here, here and here) and not just Dr. Weeks, real pioneering giants in medicine Robert Weinberg agrees and Max Wicha agrees and Max Diehn agrees but your oncologist is content to offer you “standard of care medicine” (i.e “yesterday’s medicine” which is all that insurance companies will reimburse) and therefore change is coming at a tragically (perhaps criminally?) slow rate.
“…I would like to see us move beyond the current therapies we use, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” Wicha said. “Although they can be helpful, they don’t hit the most important cells in cancer: stem cells…”
Oncologist speaks on stem cell research and treatments as part of lecture series
Olivia Exstrum, Reporter
May 22, 2014 •
A University of Michigan oncology professor spoke Thursday night at Northwestern about current cancer treatments and the future possibilities of stem cell research.
About 50 people attended Dr. Max Wicha’s lecture, “Cancer Stem Cells: Are We Targeting the Right Cells?”, part of the biannual Silverstein Lecture Series sponsored by the Center for Genetic Medicine.
Wicha, who specializes in breast cancer research, used his experience researching the disease to explain how current cancer treatments can sometimes be useless and even detrimental to patients’ progress.
“I would like to see us move beyond the current therapies we use, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy,” Wicha said. “Although they can be helpful, they don’t hit the most important cells in cancer: stem cells.”
Although a woman today has a 25 percent lower chance of dying from breast cancer than in 1990, he said the cancer is often never fully eradicated and therefore returns later for many women. Wicha said the key to treating cancer lies in stem cells.
“Stem cells have the property of self-renewal,” he said. “Stem cells can keep making copies of themselves. They can differentiate and form all of the specialized cells in your body.”
Wicha then explained the two basic models of how cancers develop: the stochastic model and the cancer stem cell model. He said the first model is the one that has been traditionally used by scientists and doctors when studying cancer. The stochastic model compares cancer cell spread to evolution, where most cells can form new tumors and every cell is equally malignant. In contrast, the second model argues that only stem cells have the ability to proliferate extensively and form new tumors.
Wicha said he and his colleagues ran a variety of experiments to test the cancer stem cell hypothesis. He pointed to an instance when they tested the effects of normal cancer cells and stem cells on mice. Wicha said the mice inoculated with 200 cancerous stem cells developed tumors, although those with 20,000 regular cancer cells did not.
“Science has traditionally only focused on non-tumorigenic cancer cells,” he said. “The deadly part of all cancers is not the primary cancer. It’s the spread of cancers to distant organs.”
In order for a cancer to be completely eradicated, Wicha said all of the cells — particularly stem cells — need to be destroyed. He said contrary to popular belief, shrinking cancerous tumors does little to help. If even a few stem cells are left behind, the tumor will simply regenerate.
Wicha added scientists are currently looking at combining an anti-stem cell agent with an agent inhibiting tumor growth in order to better treat cancer and stop stem cells from forming and spreading.
“Virtually all cancers have these cancer stem cells,” he said. “What’s really exciting is these pathways that drive these stem cells in one type often drive it in another type as well, so we’re really excited to study that.”
Molecular biosciences Prof. Greg Beitel, associate director of the Center for Genetic Medicine, said he chose Wicha as the series’ lecturer because he felt the topic was relevant and “becoming increasingly prominent.”
“It’s an important emerging area of cancer treatment, and so I went looking for an expert in the field,” he said. “Dr. Wicha is not only that, but also somebody who is able to present it to the public in an accessible way.”
Skokie resident Muriel Furlager, 64, said she and her husband, Hillel Furlager, attended the lecture because of her personal experience with stem cell treatment, having previously received a transplant to treat her lymphoma.
“I wanted to learn more about how cancer cells operate,” she said.