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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Diarrhea Medication May Cure Cancer

It was another lab accident, not all that different from Alexander Fleming's when he discovered penicillin.

Katherine Schaefer, at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, was looking for drugs to treat the inflammation seen in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both of which cause pain and diarrhea, according to an article sent out by Reuters.

She was testing compounds on cancer cells, because - ironically - cancer cells are so hard to kill that they made great lab subjects.

“I made a calculation error and used a lot more than I should have. And my cells died,” Schaefer said.

A colleague overheard her complaining. “The co-author on my paper said,’ Did I hear you say you killed some cancer?’ I said ‘Oh’, and took a closer look.”

They ran several tests and found the compound killed ”pretty much every epithelial tumor cell lines we have seen,” Schaefer said. Epithelial cells line organs such as the colon, and also make up skin.

It also killed colon tumors in mice without making the mice sick, they reported in the journal International Cancer Research.

Nice as this report is, it's nothing to get hopes high about. Many compounds work in petri dishes and in animal tests. Even the promising ones are a decade away from the drugstore.

No matter. Here is one more piece of evidence that basic research, close observation and understanding of a subject, and a little luck can be the road to great science. This is the real intelligent design. Accept no phony anti-science substitutes.

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