What would doctors and hospitals do if people stopped getting diseases? What would researchers do if there were no more diseases to study?
Well, we’ve been getting a foretaste of such a situation for the past eight months. Back in June, I wrote a post on environmental enrichment and its beneficial effects, “Does stress cause cancer?” The impact of making the mice “happier” has continued to be quite tangible, and even problematic, from a certain perspective.
One of the most important projects in Daniel 2:28, Inc. is understanding the process of metastasis and discovering new ways to prevent this process. As you may know, most cancer deaths are not due to the original tumor itself, but are usually due to the complications arising from the cancer spreading and growing in other parts of the body (metastasis).
Well, with the happy mice, the cancer has not been growing very well. Furthermore, if and when I can get the cancer to grow in the mouse, frequently, I can’t get the cancer to spread or metastasize. Basically (and this is no minor point), I can’t study metastasis anymore, and I definitely can’t test any treatments that might prevent metastasis. We’re now trying to see if it is possible to make the cancer more aggressive to compensate for the happier mice being so resilient to cancer.
Of note, the cancer we use is one of the most aggressive cancer types known in mice. This specific cancer was chosen because of my former mentor, Dr. Judah Folkman, who once said, “if we can find a treatment that works against Lewis Lung carcinoma, then it will probably work against any cancer.” This cancer type was discovered in 1952, and it has rightly earned its reputation, in unhappy mice. Yes, all the decades of research published on Lewis Lung carcinoma has been based on relatively stressed out, unhappy mice, and may not be relevant when it comes to happy mice.
Despite the uncertainty, this is what makes research exciting. There is always room for discovery. I know that the image of empty hospitals and clinics will one day be a reality, but on this side of heaven, I think cancer will be sticking around for a while. I trust God’s revelations will light the way, in face of the obvious obstacles that stand in front of us.