From The Cancer Chronicles #32-#33
© June 1996 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

NOTE: See our updated article, "The Flap Over Angiostatin and Endostatin" (1998). Little did we realize when we wrote this article in 1996 the worldwide hysteria that would soon be generated about Dr. Folkman's work.

A prominent Boston-area researcher believes he has found a way to stop malignancies in their tracks by injecting an agent that normally occurs in the body. Judah Folkman, MD and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School reported their finding in late February in the British journal, New Scientist.

They have called this agent angiostatin. It is based upon work that Folkman and colleagues did starting in the 1970s: it reputedly stops blood vessels in cancer tumors from developing, thereby halting their growth and preventing the development of metastases.

The team injected the new agent into mice with lung cancer. "We injected the mice every day," Folkman said, "a bit like insulin injections for people with diabetes, and the tumors were held in check — preventing any further deterioration.''

Folkman has shown that tumors which cannot sprout new blood vessels are unable to grow bigger than a pea. But whether or not new vessels actually form depends on the balance between stimulators and inhibitors in the blood stream. This process is called angiogenesis.

Angiostatin, which is a fragment of a blood-clotting protein, is an angiogenesis inhibitor. The scientists inserted the gene that codes for the manufacture of angiostatin into cancer cells that were then implanted into mice. It was found that cells altered in this way did indeed produce a higher than normal level of angiostatin.

"They ended up behaving more like slow-growing warts than tumors, and after three months the mouse was still going strong, which is the equivalent of six years in human terms,'' said Dr. Folkman. He warned that producing the agent for human patients still faces major obstacles. It takes almost a gallon of blood plasma and a week of laboratory work to produce just 0.005 ounce of the precious substance. And attempts to grow the gene in bacteria have failed so far.

Folkman has not found universal acceptance for his claims. James Pluda of the NCI threw some cold water on the idea. "A few years ago we were very excited about a number of agents which seemed to prevent new vessel growth in the laboratory,'' he said in response to Folkman's article, "but when it came to clinical trials, the substances did not fulfill their promise."

The principle of blocking angiogenesis is familiar to many from the book Sharks Don't Get Cancer. In it, I. William Lane, PhD claims that shark cartilage does the same thing as angiostatin. Folkman vigorously disputes such claims, stating that an insufficient amount of the key ingredients could possibly reach the tumors.

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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