FAU Study: Can sea sponge be a cure for pancreatic cancer?


A deep-water marine sponge found off of Fort Lauderdale’s coast contains a compound that can inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells, say  scientists at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce.

FAU Harbor Branch Leiodermatium
Could this sponge off the coast of Fort Lauderdale hold the answer to curing pancreatic cancer?

The sponge contains leiodermatolide, a natural product that research shows can block cancer cells from dividing using extremely low concentrations of the compound.

According to a FAU news release, sea sponges are an ancient group of animals that appeared more than 600 million years ago that have many of the same genes as humans.

“These scientists are taking advantage of this similarity in human and sponge genomes to isolate marine natural compounds from these organisms to develop medicines useful in the treatment of human diseases such as cancer,” the release stated.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Patients have less than a 7 percent survival rate within five years of diagnosis, and 74 percent of patients die within the first year of diagnosis.

The lead author of the study is Esther Guzmán, an associate research professor at FAU Harbor Branch.

ks for treatments for pancreatic cancer and infectious diseases, and their scientists also have collaborations with other scientists working on other forms of cancer, malaria, tuberculosis, neurodegenerative disease and inflammation.

“The primary goal of our marine biomedical and biotechnology program is to discover marine natural products with utility as medicines or as tools to better allow us to understand disease processes,” said Wright.

Is Delray Beach’s proton therapy the best cure for cancer?

The city of Delray Beach was so excited that its local hospital will soon have a new cancer cure, it sent out a press release on Tuesday: “Delray Medical Center to Offer Proton Therapy”

And what’s not to like about the state-of-the-art, Star Trek looking device that cure’s cancer – especially those affecting children.

Well, the Wall Street Journal calls it an “expensive and controversial cancer treatment.”

Proton-beam therapy uses positively charged particles to kill tumor cells. Unlike traditional radiotherapy using X-rays, protons treatment minimizes the damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Delray Beach Medical Center is getting a proton-beam therapy machines, such as this one in the Czech Republic (Associated Press )


Proton-beam therapy centers can cost up to $200 million to build. The cost can be justified for childhood cancers and a small number of adult ones – such as brain tumors at the base of the skull – the jury is still out on cost-effectiveness for most common cancers, the Journal reported.

A 2013 study estimated that for prostate cancer patients, proton therapy cost $32,000 per treatment, versus $18,000 for traditional radiotherapy.

The Delray Medical Center Proton Therapy Treatment Center is estimated to cost approximately $53 million and is scheduled to open in 2018.

The city says the therapy is particularly effective in treating solid cancer tumors including tumors of the brain, spine, head and neck, lung, prostate, colon and some breast tumors.

“Due to its precision and lack of long-term side effects, proton therapy is widely used to treat children,” according to the press release.

In the past five years, proton-beam therapy rooms world-wide have nearly doubled worldwide.  It is also a great marketing tool, giving hospitals more prestige, according to the Journal’s story. Expect a billboard near you soon to tout the treatment at the hospital willing to make the investment.

“We are looking forward to offering this innovative treatment option at Delray Medical Center,” said Mark Bryan, CEO of Delray Medical Center is quoted in the city’s press release. “It is always our goal to incorporate new technologies and techniques that will make treatment safer and less invasive for our patients.”

Proton International out of Louisville, Ky., is going to build the proton therapy treatment center in Delray Beach.

“This will assure local residents won’t have to travel to gain access to this treatment which will reduce the stress and disruption on families,” said Chris Chandler, the company’s CEO.

To read all of the Wall Street Journal’s story click here.

Cancer savior or scam artist? Canada investigating local health guru

Brian Clement, of the West Palm Beach-based Hippocrates Health Institute, says he can cure cancer with wheat grass suppositories and a diet of raw vegan food.

Health Canada is investigating Clement over allegations he is selling unlicensed health products in its country, according to a story by The Hamilton Spectator.

Clement’s products are sold mainly online from his Florida base.

6/12/00 - Brian R. Clement (cq), director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, photographed on the lush grounds of his in-residence health facility. (For "Pioneers of the New Century") BRUCE R. BENNETT/Staff Photographer
Brian R. Clement, director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, photographed on the lush grounds of his in-residence health facility in 2000.

Health Canada spokesperson Maryse Durrette told the newspaper the department has not licensed any the LifeGive brand products Clement is offering for sale during an Ontario tour due to wrap up this week.

Clement gained notoriety in Canada when two Native American girls with leukemia abandoned chemotherapy in Hamilton in favor of his treatments. One died early in 2015 and the other has returned to chemotherapy.

An Internet survey of a sample of the 218 health food stores in Hamilton and area found none carrying the brand.

And Canadians are none too happy that Clement was touring the area recently.

“He doesn’t play around with acne or the common cold,” says Joe Schwarcz, director of prestigious McGill University’s Office for Science and Society which investigates potentially fraudulent therapies. He spoke to Hamilton newspaper in a separate story.

“He targets people who have cancer. The things that are offered at the Hippocrates clinic have no scientific basis. Not only is there no evidence, but they are not scientifically plausible,” Schwarcz said.

A  call to Clement for comment by The Palm Beach Post at his office in West Palm Beach wasn’t immediately returned.