BALTIMORE—After a lifetime dedicated to finding a cure for cancer, Johns Hopkins University absent-minded professor Humbert E. Huggins announced Monday that a 100 percent effective cure for cancer exists and is somewhere in his home, "probably in that big pile of papers by the back door or in the one in the hall closet."
The cure, which involves "smart enzymes" that locate and surround cancerous and anaplastic cells, effectively "suffocating" them, was the result of 28 years of research by the comically forgetful Huggins and his cancer-research team at Johns Hopkins.
Sorting through a three-foot-high stack of papers in his living room, Huggins said, "I remember sticking something in here a couple of days ago. I think it might have been the cure."
Fellow researcher Patricia Graves explained how they arrived at the cure.
"Hundreds of thousands of experimental solutions over the last three decades were tested on laboratory mice that were infected with cancer," Graves said. "When 15 batches of mice suddenly went into dramatic remission, we knew we had struck medical gold. Regrettably, the brilliant but addle-pated Professor Huggins was reviewing the records of the study in his home at the time."
As of press time, Huggins had yet to locate the three sheets of white notebook paper listing the precise formulations for test solutions BEC-32916 through 32930. He did stress, however, that he was "retracing all my steps of the last few days."
The simplicity of the materials used ensured that when mass-produced in pill form, the cure would cost only four cents for a weekly dose. Huggins said he had intended to make the cure public domain to guarantee the global eradication of cancer within five years. He also said it is possible that the cure is in one of the blue binders that used to be on the shelf above his television and is now somewhere else.
"This is quite possibly the greatest breakthrough in medical history," Huggins said. "And it is quite possibly in one of the boxes under the dining room table."
In a statement last week, the Nobel Foundation said that Huggins has been nominated for two Nobel Prizes in Medicine, one for finding the cancer cure and one if he finds it again.
"He lost the [cancer] cure?" said team member Dr. Stephen Blake upon learning of the missing documents. "How could he lose the [cancer] cure?"
Added Blake: "What a [forgetful professor]."
The medical community is rejoicing over the discovery of the cure, wherever it may be. "This discovery, as soon as it is discovered again, will surely usher in a new age for medicine," said Harvard University oncologist Dr. Henry Caldwell. "Imagine a future in which those diagnosed with cancer will have only to go to the drugstore and pay a dollar for the cure. Has Professor Huggins looked in the back seat of his car? Because a lot of times I leave stuff there."
When informed of Caldwell's comments, Huggins responded that he does not own a car, because when he did own one, his absent-minded condition caused him to lose his keys "constantly." He said he has traveled to and from work by bus for the past 12 years.
"Jeez," Huggins said, "I didn't leave it on the bus, did I?"
Millions of cancer patients around the world are excited by news of the breakthrough. "Well, how hard is he looking?" said 15-year-old Caryn Williams of Helena, MT, who was recently diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. "How big is that house of his?"
"Actually, now that I think of it, it might be back at the office," Huggins said. "I remember bringing one of my leather satchels there with a bunch of papers that were under my bed. But then where did I put it?"
Huggins has not ruled out the possibility that other, non-cancerous diseases can be cured with permutations of the cancer cure, or that the cure is in his basement, where many of his important papers are stored.
Anyone with information regarding the location of the cure is asked to contact Professor Huggins at the university. He is not accepting calls asking where he last saw the cure. "That's what I'm trying to remember," he said.