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A Waste of Time?

Pharmaceutical companies have been spending a lot of money on new cancer treatments, but the results have been less than stellar, says Robert Langreth on Forbes' Treatments blog. Pfizer, for example, has been spending a lot of money to develop a cancer drug that, in testing, helps only five percent of lung cancer patients with a particular tumor mutation. Langreth spoke to cancer geneticist Garth Anderson of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, who has a theory about that: he says targeted cancer treatment can't work because tumors are genomically unstable, producing more mutations than the treatments could possibly target. "They have so much genetic damage that it may be impossible to safely destroy them with drug that hit just one or two bad genes," Langreth says. Anderson adds that it would be better to spend money developing better tumor imaging techniques and less invasive surgical procedures.

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.