March 2004
Fortune International (Europe);3/22/2004, Vol. 149 Issue 5, p56
The article looks at possible cures for cancer that were developed in the 1990s and that failed to deliver on expectations. Soon after Wilhelm Roentgen's discovery of X-rays in 1895, some doctors predicted that the high-energy waves from exotic "cyclotrons" could be used to kill most cancerous tumors. In 1980, the world was afrenzy about interferon--an immune-system booster produced by the body in tiny quantities--as word spread that this natural virus fighter could also shrink tumors. Interleukin-2 was once thought to be the "cancer breakthrough" we were waiting for. After a flurry of early hype, endostatin, a drug designed to fight tumor angiogenesis, failed dramatically in human tests. The little yellow pill from Novartis, called gleevec, has wondrous effect in a few rare cancers involving simple mutations, although the disease can grow resistant to this "targeted" biological drug.


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