A leading cancer group said Saturday it was unrealistic to expect that new anti-angiogenesis drugs would cure cancer in humans within two years.
Anti-angiogenesis drugs, which inhibit tumors by starving them of their blood supply, have been front-page news this month because of reports the drugs angiostatin and endostatin cure cancer in mice."I think these are very hopeful signs but to think of a total cure in two years from one particular compound is perhaps overstatement," Dr. Robert Mayer, president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, told reporters in Los Angeles.
"Recent comments were perhaps hyperbole. These drugs and new approaches are novel ways of treating the cancer cell but I don't think any investigator thinks of them as a substitute for what we have now," he said.
Mayer was apparently referring to a New York Times report May 3 that quoted Nobel laureate James Watson as predicting cancer could be cured within two years in the wake of progress with the drugs developed by the biotech company EntreMed Inc.
The front-page article spurred an explosion of interest in EntreMed and the drugs angiostatin and endostatin and helped boost its shares by some 500 percent the next day.
Watson, a co-discoverer of the "double helix" structure of DNA, disputed the quotation that the New York Times published.
The two drugs are naturally occurring proteins that block growth of blood vessels that feed tumors. They were discovered by Dr. Judah Folkman, a cancer researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston, and licensed to EntreMed.
Mayer said the drugs may advance cancer treatment when used in conjunction with existing therapies such as chemotherapy.