Crazy Grad Stories

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

This is Janice Goh's third place winning entry to the Synapse Storytelling Contest's creative prose category.

“I did a dose response curve using bleach. To my great delight, it worked perfectly! It was the most potent of all my test compounds.” — Alex Smart, PSPG graduate student

Drug development has been in a crisis, with the field of oncology being hit hard.

Despite the many years of research and billions of dollars spent in coming up with new drugs for cancer, few drugs have succeeded in coming into the market that demonstrate both efficacy and safety.

Yet 1 in every 3 people will suffer from cancer in their life time. This makes finding new cures for cancer an urgent health problem.

In a brilliant stroke of genius, Grad student extraordinaire Alex Smart recently discovered that bleach, a common household cleaning agent, was able to kill with consistent success, all types of cancer cells, including the most resistant ones.

“Initially, my project was focused on the repurposing of old drugs to target resistant cancer cell lines after cancer relapse. However, despite my best efforts, none of the compounds seemed to have significant efficacy against these resistant cell lines. One night after scrolling through social media however, I saw a post about how common household items help to ward of common illnesses. That got me thinking; since lemon juice and salt can cure a cold, why not repurpose common household items for cancer as well?” Mr. Smart gushes.

Mr. Smart tested a panel of household items including fine sugar, Mediterranean Sea salt, apple cider vinegar, bleach, and of course, every grad student’s favorite, Philz coffee.

All items were bought from the local Whole Foods.

The compounds were tested against the gold standard treatment for each individual type of cancer.

While some of the compounds such as sugar did not show much effect on cancer cell growth, bleach had a consistently strong effect on apoptosis in all the different cancer cell types.

“Well, I do have to say, I don’t always buy in to posts on Facebook. They are not evidence based. But I took a risk and the results showed! This finding will potentially help to save thousands of lives!” Mr. Smart muses in an afterthought after we give him a quizzical look about his claim on household remedies.

In a separate interview with one of Mr. Smart’s bench mates, Mr. Dulbecco comments, “I am happy Alex has finally found something to be happy about. However, I too disinfect some of my media bottles with bleach sometimes, so I’m not too surprised that bleach actually killed off the cancer cells.”

Mr. Smart’s Principal Investigator when told the news however, merely rolled his eyes and declined to comment. He could be heard muttering under his breath however, “Bleach can kill cancer cells. But so can a hand gun.”