De-vitalisation clinical trials cancelled

On Tuesday, the Czech Ministry of Health cancelled clinical trials of what, a couple months ago, was considered a breakthrough in cancer treatment. The method, called de-vitalisation, is based on the concept of surgically cutting off the blood supply to malignant tumors, thereby depriving them of oxygen and nutrients resulting in reduced rate of growth and finally tumor cell death. From the beginning, medical experts warned that many problems connected with the treatment remained unresolved and that the treatment had been shown to work in animal models but that there was no such proof in humans. Despite the debate, the clinical trial was initiated and only half a year later abruptly cancelled due to questionable results in humans. Nicole Klement has the story.

Czech-born cancer researcher Giannoula Klement who presently works as a clinician-scientist in Canada, says the method, presented in the Czech Republic as revolutionary, is not actually very new.

"For the past thirty years Dr. Folkman, at Harvard, has been pioneering the idea of cutting off the blood supply using chemical substances. Ever since, this field has taken off to really new heights. And, we now have better much more sophisticated ways of cutting the blood supply to the tumor. So, Dr. Forthyn's method is really something we have tried thirty to forty years ago before Dr. Folkman and the field of angiogenesis had begun."

Some Czech researchers claimed that de-vitalisation works because when the primary tumor's blood supply is destroyed, the immune system is able to fight off the metastatic cells. Dr. Klement explained to Radio Prague that findings in the American cancer research community contradict those of their Czech colleagues.

"Most of our patients die of metastatic growth, not really because of these large primary tumors and cutting the blood supply to that single one is not really going to help the patient. So, it's really against intuition to try to cut the blood supply to this large tumor. In fact, we have now found that the metastatic growth increases if you cut this primary blood supply."

Author: Nicole Klement
run audio