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On the Plus Side, This Is One War with Support at Home

The Boston Globe has a feature story on the war on cancer, and what it calls a growing sense of discouragement among researchers and advocate groups with the slow progress in treatment and therapeutics. "For many types of cancer, once the disease has spread, or metastasized, the patient's chance of long-term survival is not much better than when President Nixon declared 'war' on the disease in 1971, triggering what is now a $69 billion federal investment in cancer research," according to the article. "With federal funding for cancer research frozen since 2003, critics say the pace of progress could slow even more as young researchers leave the field."

Over at Omics! Omics!, blogger Keith Robison reflects on the Globe article. He notes that "what the article fails to explore is that we can't really know if we are about to have a sharp turnaround" -- this, he says, is because of the lag between the release of a drug and its effect on long-term survival rates in cancer patients. He also says that "proposing to eradicate cancer by some time in the very near future" (such as Andrew von Eschenbach's plan to eliminate cancer by 2015) is simply a "recipe for disaster" with unrealistic expectations.

 

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.