Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong vowed [to vanquish cancer] when he launched his audacious “Cancer MoonShot 2020” a year ago…The supremely self-confident billionaire behind that vision has drawn attention at the highest levels: He’s talked cancer research with Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, even the Pope.
But a STAT investigation of Soon-Shiong’s cancer moonshot has found very little scientific progress.
At its core, the initiative appears to be an elaborate marketing tool for Soon-Shiong — a way to promote his pricey new cancer diagnostic tool at a time when he badly needs a business success, as his publicly-traded companies are losing tens of millions per quarter. STAT also found several instances of inflated claims, with the moonshot team taking credit for progress that doesn’t appear to be real.
STAT asked several independent scientists to review Soon-Shiong’s claims. Their conclusion: The data don’t back up the hype.
“The clinical breakthroughs touted by Patrick Soon-Shiong are less than modest — they are the most miniscule and vague findings,” said Dr. Vinay Prasad, a hematologist-oncologist at Oregon Health and Science University. He called them “overblown beyond what is reasonable or fair.”
To be sure, Soon-Shiong’s general idea for a vaccine — to customize it for each patient based on the unique genetic markers of their tumor — is widely seen as a promising approach within the field of immunotherapy.
But the reality is that the science is incredibly hard.
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