BALTIMORE—After a lifetime dedicated to finding a cure for cancer, absent-minded Johns Hopkins University professor Humbert E. Huggins reports that a 100 percent effective cure for cancer exists and is somewhere in his home, "probably in this big pile of papers or the one in the hall closet."

Prof. Humbert E. Huggins has looked all over his office, but has not yet been able to find the cure for cancer. He believes the key to eradicating the disease may lie "in a big box under my dining room table."

The cure, involving "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 of the revolutionary cure, "I remember sticking something in here a couple of days ago... I think it might have been the cure."

"Hundreds of thousands of experimental solutions over the last three decades were tested on laboratory mice that were infected with cancer," said team member Patricia Graves. "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 at that time reviewing the records of the study in his home."

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, though he stressed 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 intends to place the cure into the public domain to guarantee the global eradication of cancer within five years. He further added 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."

The Nobel Foundation said yesterday that Huggins is automatically 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 at the discovery of the cure, wherever it may be. "This discovery, as soon as it is discovered again, will surely awaken a new age for medicine," says Harvard University researcher 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 their cure. Whenever this future arrives, I hope it is soon. Has Professor Huggins looked in the back seat of his car? Because a lot of times I leave stuff there."

Huggins does not own a car, because when he did own one, his absent-minded condition caused him to lose his keys constantly. 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?"

Even more than the medical community, the millions of cancer sufferers around the world are excited by the new breakthrough. "Well, how hard is he looking?" said 15-year-old brain cancer patient Caryn Williams, who stands to live many decades longer given the cure. "How big is this 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 certain strains of the cancer cure or that the cure is in his basement, where many of his important papers are stored.

Anyone with leads to 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.