Santorini, ~ 1984
Sometimes valuable information appears in unexpected places. For instance, a significant percentage of Google Alerts on ovarian cancer cite Wall Street-type publications. Think about it for a minute and you will quickly understand; cancer-treatment breakthroughs often lead to profit bonanzas for Big Pharma, or Little Pharma for that matter. The alert investor must be ready to jump.
I mention this because of an article I just read that appeared in TheStreet.com. It appears that scientists working for Verastem (presumably part of Little Pharma) have determined that chemotherapy actually stimulates the activity of cancer stem cells. This, it seems to me, is a significant setback.
You know how it goes. Woman diagnosed with OVCA undergoes debulking surgery, followed by adjuvant chemo. Remission ensues. However, some months or years later the cancer returns. Five-year survival rate is <50%. What are increasingly termed cancer stem cells are to blame.
Research performed by the Verastem people suggests that, far from wiping out the CSC, chemo actually invigorates them! This is said to follow from a trial comparing length of remission in women who had surgery plus chemo with the same for women who had only surgery. The latter lived longer. Well, that’s not certain; what was actually observed was a large increase in unhealthy mutations in the surgery plus chemo group. Experiments with mice also showed that chemo was counter-productive.
So, what to say?
What are these freaking CSCs, anyway, and why can’t we confront them directly?
How many onco-docs would be willing to forego adjuvant therapy? Damned few, I would guess.
Will Verastem succeed in ongoing efforts to develop drugs that can kill CSC? And if so……………….
How can we buy its stock?
Here is the article: http://www.streetinsider.com/Corporate+News/Verastem+(VSTM)+Presents+Data+on+Supporting+Preferential+Targeting+of+Ovarian+Cancer+Stem+Cells/11441037.html
And here is an old blog on CSC: http://ljb-quiltcutie.blogspot.com/2012/08/cancer-stem-cells-may-they-rot-int-hell.html