Kanematsu Sugiura (1890 – October 21, 1979 in White Plains, New York) was a cancer researcher who spent his career at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. A pioneer in cancer research", he completed over 250 papers before his death. Sugiura received a number of awards and prizes throughout his life, and retired from the center in 1962.
In 1972, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center board member Benno Schmidt convinced the hospital to test laetrile in order to assert its ineffectiveness "with some conviction". Sugiura found that laetrile inhibited secondary tumors in mice, without destroying the primary tumor, but in a blind test was unable to conclude that laetrile had anticancer activity.
The initial positive results were not published because, in the words of Chester Stock, Sugiura's supervisor, "it would have caused all kind of havoc." Nevertheless, they were leaked in 1973, causing a stir. Consequently laetrile was tested on 14 tumor systems, and a Sloan-Kettering press release concluded that laetrile showed no beneficial effects.
Three other researchers were unable to confirm Sugiura's results. Mistakes in the Sloan-Kettering press release were highlighted by a group of laetrile proponents, led by Ralph Moss, former public affairs official of Sloan-Kettering hospital, who was fired when he announced his membership in the group. These mistakes were considered inconsequential, but Nicholas Wade in Science noted that, "even the appearance of a departure from strict objectivity is unfortunate."
The results of all of the studies were published together in the Journal of Surgical Oncology.
- Hutchison DJ (July 1980). "Kanematsu Sugiura 1890-1979". Cancer Res. 40 (7): 2625–6. PMID 6992988.
- Wade N (December 1977). "Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering: A Question of Ambiguity". Science 198 (4323): 1231–1234. doi:10.1126/science.198.4323.1231. PMID 17741690.
- Published in Journal of Surgical Oncology 10(2).