GcMAF for the treatment of breast cancer: Retraction of an article by Yamamoto et al.
Peer-review, that is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work, before publication of scientific articles is meant to be a very strict process to guarantee the publication of good quality literature only. This process, however, has some limitations and sometimes inaccurate articles might get published anyway. Correcting the literature by means of retracting articles from publication is not an uncommon process in such cases. Indeed, we should always remain critical, share our opinion with others and we should certainly not refrain from discussing scientific findings.
Between 2008 and 2009 a series of peer-reviewed articles reporting the successful treatment of breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer and HIV using a protein called GcMAF (Gc protein-derived macrophage activating factor) by Yamamoto et al. were published. The theory behind these articles mainly comes down to the belief that high levels of an enzyme called Nagalase (α-N-acetylgalactosaminidase) in the blood inhibits GcMAF. This protein is claimed to activate macrophages, a type of white blood cells which are key players in the immune response to foreign invaders of the body, to fight cancer and HIV. Yamamoto et al. proposed to use GcMAF manufactured by them as a possible treatment for cancer and HIV. Later on, although Yamamoto et al. never published any clinical research article on GcMAF as treatment for other diseases, proponents of GcMAF started claiming that GcMAF would also be effective to treat autism, chronic fatigue syndrome and other ailments, thereby always measuring Nagalase levels to evaluate disease progression. So far however, no scientist has ever validated the measurement of Nagalase in the blood as a marker of the diseases claimed to be cured by GcMAF. Considering all the contradictions in this theory, the tenets in oncology that have been violated while developing it, and most importantly, the illegal commercialization of GcMAF on the internet, the Anticancer Fund decided to investigate this matter further.
Many inconsistencies on the actual development of the trials supporting GcMAF use in cancer and HIV were found. Consequently, the Anticancer Fund team informed the editors of the journals where Yamamoto published his cancer-related articles on their concerns. Recently, after thorough discussions, the article claiming that breast cancer can be treated with GcMAF, which was published by the International Journal of Cancer, was retracted, the retraction notice can be found here. At this moment, the ACF team is waiting for further actions by the editors of the journals where the two other cancer-related articles by Yamamoto et al. were published. “The poor quality of the research supporting the use of GcMAF to treat cancer and other diseases; plus the illegal and aggressive marketing of this product over the internet has impeded proper independent research to elucidate its true value in cancer treatment” indicated Lydie Meheus PhD, Director of the Anticancer Fund. “Our goal is to avoid that cancer patients are misled by seemingly scientific evidence that turns out to be of questionable quality” Dr. Meheus added.