A team of Russian scientists appears to have developed a promising cancer cure on the International Space Station (ISS).
Around the world, scientists have been trying, without much success, to turn “Heat Shock Proteins” (HSP) into cancer vaccines. However, the Russian team from the Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA) may have cracked the code.
Professor Andrei Simbirtsev is the Deputy Director at the State Research Institute of Highly Pure Biopreparations and heads the FMBA team conducting the research. In 2015 they sent ultra pure HSP in capillary tubes up to the ISS so the proteins may develop into the purist kind of crystals.
When the crystallization process takes place on earth, it is susceptible to contamination and impurities. Only in zero gravity is it possible to create perfect crystals. The crystals developed in space for 6 months before returning to earth.
Russian and Japanese labs then analyzed the crystals. These labs have the specialized heavy duty equipment for x-ray crystallography. Professor Simbirtsev claimed that there was no further requirement to send anything further to the ISS.
HSP is also known as thermal shock protein. The human body produces small amounts of HSP in every cell during stress. But it is not enough to fight off cancer. HSP’s cell protection action is well known already by scientists.
Only recently it came to light that HSP helps to enhance an anti-tumor immune response
It enables cells to reveal the tumor antigens to the immune system and provoke an immune response.
As there is not enough produced by the human body to destroy cancer, Professor Simbirtsev has found a way to mass produce it. He created a bacterial cell that can produce the protein via a cloning process.
Thus far, the results from testing done on mice and rats, with melanoma and sarcoma, have proven remarkably successful. They claim to show a complete recovery – even in later stage tumors – in the majority of cases.
The mice and rats received the vaccine via intravenous methods. However, Professor Simbirtsev hopes to further develop the treatment in order to administer it directly into a human tumor.
He estimates it may take almost half a decade to be sure if his cure is successful and non-toxic to humans. Another year needs to pass before the pre-clinical trials can prove it has zero toxicity. So far there have been no tests on humans.
One of his biggest hurdles is seeking to funding for further clinical trials that will need to take place. Up till now he and his team have worked with a government grant. In order to proceed he needs between $1.5-2 million.
Professor Simbirtsev wishes to keep investment into the drug localized within Russia
However, once an investor or investors come forward, the Russian government will help further. He claims that the state will return 50% of the investment when the cure shows to be successful.
He stresses that no-one should get excited about a cure just yet. That in science, as in reality, there is no “quick-fixes“. He intends to run meticulous clinical trials that will last 2-3 years. But his adherence to accuracy and honesty sound very reassuring.
One thing cancer patients have to painfully endure too often are “snake oil salesmen” with scams that they claim are cures. The long research time is reassurance that this is more likely to be a legitimate cure.
If and when the cure becomes available, Professor Simbirtsev claims he can produce unlimited amounts. He and his team have invented the technology for the protein’s synthesis, and the cells breed well.
With any luck, we hope to see cancer eradicated by the end of the decade. We wish the Russian scientists well in their tireless work towards this.
Russia: Cancer patients design future ISS spacesuit in Moscow