The search for a “penicillin” for cancer

August 18 1956

The search for a “penicillin” for cancer

August 18 1956

The search for a “penicillin” for cancer

Panel members reported that a vigorous search was underway to find a drug that would cure cancer. There was so much activity in the field of chemotherapy (curing by drugs) that cancer research groups have set up a Cancer Chemotherapy National Committee to pool their knowledge and speed up progress. Dr. C. Chester Stock of the Sloan-Kettering Institute, in New York, reported that his group had already tested thirty-one thousand possible cancer cures. He went on to give further details of the search:

Dr. Stock: We are now investigating about two hundred chemical compounds a month; also another two hundred cultural filtrates of bacteria and fungi (penicillin-like substances). People are constantly sending us all kinds of materials they believe would cure cancer. Our scientist friends would be surprised at the number of them we bother to investigate seriously. We have tested such things recently as extracts made from onions, garlic and mushrooms. As a matter of fact, there's some indication that mushroom extract may be valuable. A horticultural professor in Michigan has sent us a preparation made from a fungus related to the mushroom family. On the basis of early experiments, it looks encouraging. We haven't yet followed up the suggestion made by one person—to inject patients with the ashes of a person who dies of cancer.