When David Mirelman went to China 15 years ago for a conference on amoebic dysentery, a Chinese physician, claiming he knew a cure, handed Mirelman a bottle of fermented garlic. Mirelman took the bottle back to the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, where he began studying the biochemical basis of garlic's curative powers.
He quickly honed in on the protein allicin. When a cook crushes a garlic clove, the membranes of its cysts, which are filled with the protease alliinase, break. The alliinase mixes with the protein alliin, producing allicin – a protein that has virulent cytotoxic properties, as well as a very pungent smell.
To focus allicin's killing power on cancer, Mirelman conjugated alliinase to a monoclonal antibody that targets the tumor marker ErbB2. A follow-up dose of alliin created allicin primarily in cancer tumors, and tumor growth stopped completely after 12 days.1 "It's like transforming...