Measuring Contest

Jul 14, 2023

Ok, so that just happened.

Elon Musk challenged Mark Zuckerberg to, ahem, a measuring contest.

Well, not to wade headlong (or with another anatomical part) into this debate, but let’s just say, Mr. Musk, that size isn’t everything.

Case in point: AdAPT-001. This is an adenovirus in an ongoing Phase 2 anti-cancer clinical trial that carries a TGF-β trap. The purpose of this TGF-β trap is to bind to and neutralize the immune suppressive cytokine, TGF-β. Tumors overexpress this cytokine to escape from the clutches of the immune system, an immune system that otherwise would destroy it.

So, put down the tape measure and take out an electron microscope. AdAPT-001 measures around 90 nanometers (nm). A nanometer is one billionth of a meter or 10-9 meters and one ten-millionth of a centimeter or 10-7 centimeters. The size of tumors, which contain several million cells, is typically in the centimeter range.

Which means that AdAPT-001 is successfully, based on soon to be published Phase 1 clinical trial data, taking on tumors that are ten million times bigger than it. 10 million times! That’s 10 with six zeros after it! By comparison, the Earth is only 3.5 million times larger than a single person. So, in other words, AdAPT-001 is a smaller than a speck of dust-sized planet killer—and then some, if it continues to perform as well in Phase 2 clinical trials.

To use a phrase from Elon Musk, let that sink in. And so, we repeat, based on the lesson of AdAPT-001—size isn’t everything.