Much of the research on cancer shows slow progress because scientists tend to follow established lines of research, even if non-productive (See Dr. Gerald B. Demer, The Immortal Cell, specifically the 3 quotes on pages 102-103). There are many possible approaches to studying cancer but standard medical practice concentrates on only two. Modern tools allow us to study deeply, but often narrows the focus of the research.
WIS˛H started as a consortium of scientist to bring a multidisciplinary approach to cancer research. Different fields have different knowledge and skills, and the multidisciplinary approach adds perspectives that work in one field that might not be used in another.
An example is the application of food science (our founder) to medical research. In a nutshell, medical practitioners look at proteins in their natural state and have little interest in proteins in other forms. This bold statement can be supported by two observations in the medical literature. Although the science is reported, understanding the conclusion requires no formal training in science. (So please read on.)
Christian Anfinsen was awarded a nobel prize for his work on ribonuclease (a protein) through which he concluded that proteins conformation (shape) is dictated by its primary structure (sequence of amino acids) and that proteins form into a shape which is its most stable conformation. The first statement is true for all proteins; the second true for SOME, including ribonuclease. But the projection of Anfinsen’s ideas to all proteins was generally accepted by the medical community.
Food scientists study proteins in all forms. Anyone who has cooked an egg knows that minor application of heat will change albumin (protein in egg white) from a soluble protein to a white insoluble form. Since this white form will not revert back to the soluble form, it is apparent that the natural conformation of albumin is NOT the most stable form.
The second example is PRIONs, which remain controversial. PRIONs are proteins which can exist in two active states, a natural form and a disease form. The existence of PRIONs is inconsistent with Anfinsen’s second conclusion, but is consistent with other protein observations.
In September, 1980 Kenneth Marsh and Norm Singer had a six hour conversation relating various aspects of food and medical research in an attempt to understand degradation and shelf life of foods. We investigated studies performed by Michael Tracey (CSIRO, Australia), J.E.L. Corry (UK), Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Hofmeister and others, in an attempt to understand plant senescence (aging). The conversation started with plant growth, covered growth in general, and progressed to uncontrolled growth, which is cancer. We thought of a hypothesis that water structure must change before growth could occur.This idea was intriguing but thought unprovable at the time. Dr. Marsh spoke with Dr. Gerald Pierson, a spectroscopist from the University of Iowa, who related that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) measured changes in water structure between cancer and healthy cells. Realizing that we had an observation which could have a significant impact on reducing suffering from cancer led to the formation of WIS˛H (a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit institute) .
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