Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Killing Cancer With Engineered Viruses

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the enemy-of-my-enemy dept.

Medicine 144

techfun89 writes "Viruses can make us all sick, but one day could be engineered to defeat cancer. Cancer cells have one trait that may leave them open to attack. They aren't good at killing off viral infections, hence, at least in theory, you could use a virus to kill cancer cells without affecting the patient. Dr. Ian Mohr, a virologist at New York University, altered the herpes virus so that it isn't attacked by the immune system and kills cancer cells more efficiently. Another virus that is proving effective for liver cancer is Vaccinia. Vaccinia is used to protect against smallpox and so far the results have been promising. Several groups of patients have had an increase in survival times. Meanwhile other viruses are being used for things like melanoma, bladder cancer, and head and neck cancer."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Good news everyone! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431625)

So, patient, we cured your cancer but now you have herpes. Feel better?

Re:Good news everyone! (5, Insightful)

DC2088 (2343764) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431655)

The answer would be a resounding yes. I'd rather have herpes than be dead.

Re:Good news everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431733)

But we can give you syphilis to cure the herpes.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433079)

Then we can give you crabs.

"Will that cure my syphilis then?"

No, but we can give you crabs.

Re:Good news everyone! (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431735)

What if it was a non-fatal cancer? Would you take herpes over having your testicles/breasts removed?

Re:Good news everyone! (5, Insightful)

ThatOtherGuy435 (1773144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431773)

Given that 90% of herpes is social stigma, and it's actually one of the least problematic STDs out there? Yes.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431819)

As long as there's no such thing as hand-herpes it's no problem at all to most Slashdotters.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

chooks (71012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433815)

Sorry to disappoint: herpes whitlow [wikipedia.org]

Re:Good news everyone! (2)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431905)

I might just take a prosthetic testicle, given the option and all other outcomes being equal.

Though I wonder if they don't render most of the nasty bits of this herpes virus inert. I seem to remember reading something similar about an HIV based one.

Yep, harmless, modified version of HIV used as treatment for lukemia:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44090512/ns/health-cancer/t/new-leukemia-treatment-exceeds-wildest-expectations/ [msn.com]

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432745)

You realize that every outbreak causes CNS damage? The virus is dormant in the CNS, and when there's an outbreak the virus is multiplying... this damaging the CNS tissue that it was inhabiting.

That kind of damage tends to be cumulative.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

chooks (71012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433759)

Unless you are pregnant -- in which case prenatal herpes infection can cause death or severe morbidity of the fetus.

Or unless you get encephalitis -- HSV is a big player in that game too.

Or unless you are immunocompromised (due to cancer treatment, HIV, lymphoproliferative disorders, etc...)

Re:Good news everyone! (2)

Stargoat (658863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431791)

Considering that I have cold sores now, yes. Absolutely. 100% of the time and then some. Herpes, while sucky, is much better than tearing apart parts of your body to hopefully kill a cancer. And that's before all the hormone and self-esteem. Yes, herpes all the way.

Re:Good news everyone! (0)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432771)

So... where do you believe the virus lays dormant in? You realize that when a virus spreads it destroys the cell that had been manufacturing it?

Herpes is dormant in neural tissue. Tissue that is damaged every time it outbreaks.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432349)

I'm not using them anyway, so what does it matter. ;-)

And on a side note, now I know where the word vaccine came from (from smallpox's vaccinia).

Re:Good news everyone! (4, Informative)

srjh (1316705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434701)

From the latin vacca, or cow.

Because the first steps towards a smallpox vaccine were based on the realisation that dairy workers who had contracted cowpox were immune to smallpox. Vaccinia is very closely related to cowpox, but has diverged from it slightly since the its widespread use as a vaccine.

Because it was so successful as a vaccine, the name vaccination stuck.

Miss that part of the story, and it's nowhere near as interesting.

Re:Good news everyone! (4, Informative)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431863)

No. This has already been done with HIV, and although the trial was small, the success was remarkable. They use the invasive traits of the virus with none of the nastiness. It's incredibly promising, so much that we may well have a cure (or at least a damned good treatment) for cancer within the next decade.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431999)

The news is so old the method should have been mainstream medicine for years. IIRC first experiments were about 2000.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432091)

although the trial was small, the success was remarkable

We had two candidates, only one failed.

We had two samples of 10 each. In the untreated one, 1 survived, a figure which remarkably doubled in the group with treatment.

CC.

Re:Good news everyone! (4, Informative)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432857)

Two went into complete remission. One saw a major remission, but it was not total. I'd say that's pretty damned promising, especially when one of the cured ones was perhaps a month or two away from the grave.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

mrops (927562) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432725)

What would be neat is if the virus mutates and becomes infectious like flu, one day we wake up and cancer is gone.

Though drug companies will make every effort so this is not the case. In fact, if during their research a scientist comes and says we cured cancer with this virus, but its also infectious and has no other side effects, his research will more than likely shut down.

Re:Good news everyone! (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432927)

IIRC, the virus has to be targeted at specific structures on the exterior of a specific type of cancer cell, so it is unlikely that anyone who doesn't have cancer could usefully be a carrier. This makes the chances of it spreading among the general population effectively zero.

Re:Good news everyone! (2)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433879)

Turn it around, though. Big Pharma would love to get a cancer vaccine or 30, considering that each tissue type seems to have its own cancer variant. The cure gets loose, they just test for its presence in every blood test, and charge the patient for the vaccine...

Re:Good news everyone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433145)

You know, there are enough examples of actual perfidity among corporations that you could rail about.

Why make up a hypothetical, extreme wacko scenario that you can't back up in any way whatsoever, just because you hate them evil corporations?

"Yeah, it'd be great if it rained donuts every Thursday, but you know the government would find a way to totally make that not happen. So that sucks, right?"

Re:Good news everyone! (5, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434029)

Just to shut down this line of reasoning: it requires a large number of genes for a virus to reproduce, which the researchers remove completely to make room for the more useful payload. In the case of the HIV-based study being described, that payload rewired one class of immune cells to identify another class of immune cells (which included the cancerous ones) and destroy them. Viruses crippled in this way can't spontaneously develop the ability to reproduce any more than a human eunuch can. Mutations occur during reproduction, which medically-engineered viruses have no opportunity for doing.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

JamesP (688957) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433509)

So, next step, to cure aids they will use a specially engineered cancer!

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432017)

I recall a slashdot story years about about using a virus found in pond scum to attack tumors. The idea was normal cells have dealt with this virus many times over, but the cancer cells forget what to do with it.
They had a before and after picture of a golfball sized tumor on the back of someone's neck that was almost completely gone after one injection of this stuff.

Always wondered what happened to that research, I figured some big drug company silenced it.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432815)

The idea was normal cells have dealt with this virus many times over, but the cancer cells forget what to do with it.

That can't be right... normal cells do not handle virii, that's the responsibility of specific immune cells.

Re:Good news everyone! (0)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434565)

All cells have many features that passively block viruses by messing them up. (Sorry, "virii" isn't a word.) A lot of mechanisms for gene regulation work by chopping up transcripts and proteins that are recognized by the cell as having broken down due to heavy use. This conveniently encumbers viral payload delivery, but is usually dysfunctional in cancer.

Re:Good news everyone! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432939)

"Dr. Ian Mohr, a virologist at New York University, altered the herpes virus so that it isn't attacked by the immune system"

what could possibly go wrong?

Better (1)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433541)

Altered herpes, "that it isn't attacked by the immune system"

I am Legend (2, Insightful)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431629)

yea what could possibly go wrong?

Obligatory XKCD Ref (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431753)

http://xkcd.com/938/

Re:I am Legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431795)

we managed to kill off the zombie infestation with genetically engineered.... velociraptors.

Re:I am Legend (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432631)

I thought it was with zombie-eating gorillas that will just freeze to death when winter rolls around.

Re:I am Legend (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434005)

Nonono. Zombie-attacking rattlesnakes, which are eaten by radioactive mongooses, which are hunted by the carnivorous gorrillas which freeze to death when winter comes. Except in Florida. Oh, and where void by law...

Re:I am Legend (1)

slashdottoy (2594611) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431893)

no idea

Re:I am Legend (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433803)

The premise of the Will Smith I am Legend is that the Vampire Apocalypse was caused by an errant genetically-modified virus, a virus that "completely cured" cancer.

Re:I am Legend (1)

ChromeAeonium (1026952) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432179)

yea what could possibly go wrong?

I don't know, maybe cancer?

Re:I am Legend (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434051)

Nothing exciting. The engineered viruses can't be contagious. Please all classic FUD for military robotics, which are hilariously dangerous.

I Am Legend. (1)

ToiletBomber (2269914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431697)

If they set that virus free, it will be the end of all of us! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!

Obligatory xkcd (5, Interesting)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431717)

Re:Obligatory xkcd (2)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431907)

But with enough money and treatments you can stave off the advancement of HIV indefinitely ([magic johnson])... Whilst not cured... his HIV is at the "undetectable" levels... 20 years after he announced he had it... I know of so many cases where cancer, after being treated, goes into remission, and comes back with a vengeance. ([andy whitfield - r.i.p])

I found the NYT Article referenced in TFA better.. (3, Informative)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431719)

Here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/20/health/research/viruses-are-recruited-and-flipped-as-cancer-killers.html?_r=2&ref=science [nytimes.com]

Sounds interesting (especially as somebody who is at high risk for melanoma).

myke

Re:I found the NYT Article referenced in TFA bette (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431845)

Sounds interesting (especially as somebody who is at high risk for melanoma).

Let me guess: You're from New Jersey?

Re:I found the NYT Article referenced in TFA bette (0, Offtopic)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432119)

(especially as somebody who is at high risk for melanoma).

Have you considered eating less melons? I hear that helps.

Re:I found the NYT Article referenced in TFA bette (1)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434025)

I'm at a high risk for both lemonoma and dyslexia.

isn't this old news? (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431835)

i thought HIV was the cure for cancer.

Re:isn't this old news? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434807)

To answer the question you were probably actually having: different viruses are more applicable to different cancers. HIV is ideal for blood-borne leukaemia.

Re:isn't this old news? (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39435315)

http://science.slashdot.org/story/11/08/11/1458205/cancer-cured-by-hiv [slashdot.org]

yes, i'm aware this article is talking about leukemia. i'm also aware that they used a "modified, harmless version of HIV" so it's no big mental leap to realize something like this can be done for other cancers. there was nothing in that article to indicate the HIV treatment was exclusively beneficial to leukemia patients, and throughout the article the term cancer is used generically. in fact, i'll quote from that article, so you can see where the implication lies:

In the Penn experiment, the researchers removed certain types of white blood cells that the body uses to fight disease from the patients. Using a modified, harmless version of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, they inserted a series of genes into the white blood cells. These were designed to make to cells target and kill the cancer cells. After growing a large batch of the genetically engineered white blood cells, the doctors injected them back into the patients.

In similar past experimental treatments for several types of cancer the re-injected white cells killed a few cancer cells and then died out. But the Penn researchers inserted a gene that made the white blood cells multiply by a thousand fold inside the body. The result, as researcher June put it, is that the white blood cells became “serial killers” relentlessly tracking down and killing the cancer cells in the blood, bone marrow and lymph tissue.

and no thanks for the condescension. i know exactly what fucking question i was asking, prick. the topic is "Killing Cancer With Engineered Viruses" and we already covered that. so yes, the obvious interpretation of the question, "isn't this old news?" is "i've already heard of this, so what's so different? why phrase your headline that way?" bravo for being the fucking genius that you are, you saw right through my obvious question. instead of "Killing Cancer With Engineered Viruses" something more informative and relevant would be something like "Different Viruses More Applicable to Different Cancers." that would actually build upon the knowledge i've already been given. but that wasn't the headline, and it wasn't the focus of the topic. if only it was, because then we could move on from there. simply stating "different viruses are more applicable to different cancers" doesn't explain why HIV didn't prove to be the cancer cure-all. in fact, it almost seems to assume i've never heard of the HIV treatment for cancer.

Re:isn't this old news? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39435465)

Woah, chill out! The topic is crap because this is Slashdot. There's no mystery there.

Re:isn't this old news? (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39435801)

don't assume you know better than me what i'm thinking. then getting your ignorance picked apart and your ass handed to you wouldn't be a mystery to you either.

work in progress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431861)

I think it's a good thing: -

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/health/13gene.html?pagewanted=all

Any cure for .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39431899)

boneitis? I have this guy I'm supposed to wake up from cyrogenic once that's cured.

Re:Any cure for .. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434771)

Research has shown that that disease was endemic to corporate raiders. As corporate raiding is no longer generally practised (except by large tech conglomerates) the last known sufferer died in 1991. His last words were "My only regret is that I haven't been cryogenically frozen."

Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (3, Interesting)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 2 years ago | (#39431987)

Sounds nice but once it mutates into something harmful what are you going to do?

Re:Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (2)

yanom (2512780) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433529)

become legend. Seriously, this is the plot device for I Am Legend. They cure cancer but the virus turns everyone into zombies.

Re:Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434843)

In that case, the source of the problem was that the donor virus used was actually just a bunch of Hollywood movies. This made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

Re:Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (3, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434079)

It can't. Viruses mutate when they reproduce. These viruses have all of the genes for reproduction removed. They're essentially eunuchs.

Re:Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39434311)

until they mutate and have reproductive genes again. scientists- "DOH!"

Re:Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434411)

N... no. There is no mutation.

Re:Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39435745)

'cas both original and mutated viruses were present in the same cells, and messing with the cell's mechanisms...

Re:Isn't Attacked by the Immune System (1)

davidshewitt (1552163) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434991)

Prepare to fight the zombies! ;)

Another scientist in that area of research is (5, Informative)

CmpEng (1123811) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432023)

Dr. Bell at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, http://www.ohri.ca/profiles/bell.asp [www.ohri.ca] . He's been researching and using viruses to treat cancer in liver cancer. I believe it is currently in clinical trials in Europe and showing promise to not just kill cancer cells but cut off blood flow to the tumour which also helps to 'starve it'.

Re:Another scientist in that area of research is (1)

Onco_Rx (2600353) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433703)

The clinical trials are under way in Ottawa at this moment. There were also several trials years ago... Right when I started getting a permanent cold!

I am Legend (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432081)

Didn't Will Smith teach us not to mess with that? Zombie/Vampire things are going to eat us all!!!!(10+1)

Re:I am Legend (2)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432213)

Exactly.

These researchers need to watch that movie before they go messing around with this stuff.

Re:I am Legend (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432615)

Yeah those stupid researchers with their fancy MDs and PhDs in virology, immunology, pharmacology, genetics, molecular biology, and decades of hands-on experience are completely ignorant of the subject. We must defer to a random group of Hollywood screen writers that just happened to land a gig adapting a decent 1950's science fiction novel into a shitty movie.

Re:I am Legend (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433267)

Hollywood screen writers just happened to land a gig adapting a decent 1950's science fiction novel into a shitty movie.

No joke.

SPOILER


In the movie, Will Smith becomes legendary by sacrificing himself and providing a cure.
In the book, the protagonist spends his daylight hours staking vampires while they sleep or dragging their comatose bodies into the sun, and eventually discovers that he's the last human and that vampires have made a new civilization after getting a handle on their infection (feeding on animal blood?). He's become the legendary monster that kills innocents while they sleep in the safety of their homes. Entirely different ending.

END SPOILER

Re:I am Legend (1)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434119)

Yeah those stupid researchers with their fancy MDs and PhDs in virology, immunology, pharmacology, genetics, molecular biology, and decades of hands-on experience are completely ignorant of the subject. We must defer to a random group of Hollywood screen writers that just happened to land a gig adapting a decent 1950's science fiction novel into a shitty movie.

Can you say woooosh?

Just strong enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432093)

So we can make a virus that's strong enough to kill cancer cells, but not strong enough to kill healthy cells? That's pretty cool.

Re:Just strong enough? (1)

bjohnso5 (1476817) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433133)

It's not a question of a virus' strength... it's about the specific receptors and features of a cell that it attaches to (I believe - and let me tell you, IADNAMB).

Re:Just strong enough? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434113)

I am, and you're right.

Also, what's the "D" stand for? Oh, "definitely." Gotcha. Okay.

HIV too! (4, Interesting)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432203)

Though the sample size is much smaller, the success rate is much higher. The theory here is different though: the HIV virus infects only T-Cells. T-Cells are responsible for "marking" bodily intrusions as harmful -- but rather than the traditional AIDs payload of "don't attack anything" going into them you alter the HIV virus's DNA to train the T-Cells to kill cancers. So in essence, it teaches your body how to treat cancer as an infection.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/health/13gene.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

One other change... (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433013)

-- but rather than the traditional AIDs payload of "don't attack anything" going into them you alter the HIV virus's DNA to train the T-Cells to kill cancers

You also artificially assemble the engineered virus from components and don't include the code that says "make lots more of me".

Re:HIV too! (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434711)

The choice of virus is mostly about picking what tissue you want to engineer. In the case of the technique you cited, the researchers made T cells (the immune system's hitmen, if you will) target another class of immune cells called B cells (they're the ones that make antibodies.) The engineering work was specific to the one type of B cell that had gone cancerous (although there were innocent casualties within that type.) HIV-based engineering wouldn't be practical if you were trying to fix cancer in a tissue that's out of reach of T cells, such as the brain or skin.

Killing Cancer With Engineered Viruses? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432211)

So it has come to this.

Promising, but... (5, Insightful)

lax-goalie (730970) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432279)

...there's still tons of work to do.

I've got a friend with brain cancer who was enrolled in one of the current virus trials - one which has shown great promise in animal studies. He ended up leaving the trial after a month or so, with tumor regrowth and tremendous swelling around the tumor site, causing all sorts of problems with speech, reading, and sight. He has surgery scheduled for tomorrow, after that, hopefully another trial.

Not to be a downbuzz, but it's a long road before this kind of therapy is anything more than an experimental crapshoot.

Ways to prevent and sometimes cure cancer (1, Troll)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434853)

It may be too late, but you could tell your friend about vitamin D, iodine, and vegetables, fruits, and beans, as well as fasting, in preventing and sometimes curing cancer. I've posted many links on that stuff here in the past. Just google on those term and cancer, and look up Dr. Joel Fuhrman's work and Dr. John Cannell's work. Unfortunately, the best way to deal with cancer is to prevent it by helping the human immune system deal with individual cancer cells before they proliferate. Once you have cancer, things are pretty iffy. Fasting can also help in reducing nausea from chemotherapy. Good luck to your friend. Assuming the surgery is a success, exploring these things may help prevent a recurrence. Some links to start:
http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/cancer/ [vitamindcouncil.org]
http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/article24.aspx [drfuhrman.com]
http://iodine4health.com/disease/cancer/cancer.htm [iodine4health.com]
http://www.webmd.com/cancer/news/20080331/fasting_may_improve_cancer_chemotherapy [webmd.com]
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fasting-cancer/ [marksdailyapple.com]

Unfortunately, instead of scientists studying what is proven to work (nutrition, fasting, and lifestyle) and then people lobbying to make good support for healthy choices readily available to all, scientists seem to be creating what could become the basis of a weaponized plague that evades the human immune system. :-(

Problem (4, Interesting)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432361)

The problem with using living solutions to medical problems (as opposed to drugs) is the high rate of mutation. Perhaps you engineered the virus to kill the cancer cells, but 2 months and 40k generations later it could be doing something completely different.

Re:Problem (3, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434671)

All viruses used in this manner are wired not to reproduce. It means you need to inject a lot more copies of the virus, but there's no chance of mutation in a virus that can't reproduce. And no, they can't spontaneously redevelop the huge number of genes necessary to reproduce; they don't even have the opportunity to do so. It's completely safe. They're just DNA injectors, and we're exploiting the side-effects that the viruses normally bundle with their (deleted) reproductive payloads. In this case, healthy cells are smart enough to fend off the infection, but cancer cells aren't, which is why they're cancerous in the first place.

Re:Problem (1)

wanzeo (1800058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39435807)

Well let's agree that the article is really light on information, but assuming you are able to remove enough of the viral DNA to prevent reproduction, how are you going to produce the billions of them required for treatment? You can't make them individually, so they have to be capable of reproduction to be useful.

However, I think they are using the word "engineered" too liberally. They basically just want to inject a particular viral strain which happens to kill a higher percentage of cancerous cells than normal cells. This approach is just the viral version of chemotherapy, which is an extraordinarily blunt, shotgun approach.

A real "engineered" solution would be viruses which only recognize cancerous cells, and leave normal cells unharmed. But it still doesn't solve the problem of unexpected mutations.

Re:Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39435593)

so:

Gen 1: kills cancer and dies
Gen 2: ... ...
Gen 40,000: virus magically becomes resurrected and kills everyone

OMFG

you're retarded.

WOW!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432411)

Haven't we seen this movie already? I have to tell you that I am a bit scared with this one!!!

Re:WOW!!! (2)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433039)

We also saw movies where nuclear tests created giant women with inadequate blood circulation to the brain, inch tall men, ants the size of SUVs, ...

Re:WOW!!! (1)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434121)

...giant women with inadequate blood circulation to the brain, inch tall men, ants the size of SUVs...

? [imdb.com]

O wait I got the movie and the country mixed up again

Bacteriophage (4, Interesting)

Hokan (11666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39432413)

TFA makes it seem like the concept of pitting viruses against bacteria was developed in the '50s, but research has been ongoing for much longer, at least from 1896.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteriophage [wikipedia.org]

Re:Bacteriophage (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433755)

I'm pretty sure bacteriophages were around before 1896.

Already done (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39432671)

This has been done in georgia ever since stalin's days by a french doctor. Farmaceutical companies make so much more from chimiotherapy that they won't even consider a crafted bacteria.

Ummm (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433009)

wasn't this the beginning of "I am Legend?"

Have no fear, folks! (1)

KatchooNJ (173554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433059)

At least Will Smith will be immune. We'll all be dead or vampire-like creatures, but at least Will Smith will carry on the torch of humanity. I can now sleep at night.

Re:Have no fear, folks! (1)

captain_nifty (132748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433569)

No you'll sleep during the day, did you forget that all of us cancer free zombies are nocturnal.

Good till everyone mutates into monsters (1)

mkraft (200694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39433069)

Didn't we learn anything from the "I am Legend" film.

Am I the only one?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433101)

who saw or read I Am Legend? Isn't curing cancer exactly how the global pandemic that destroyed humanity begin? Seems like a very slippery slope. The potential for unintended outcomes is too great. Beside that I'm still convinced that most cancers can be avoided through diet. There is a lot of medical evidence to suggest lethal cancer is in fact a result of nutritional deficiencies. The cancer cells themselves are a nature part of the human biochemistry.

I have seen this movie. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433197)

Isn't this what was in the movie Legend?

What day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433811)

"Viruses can make us all sick, but one day could be engineered to defeat cancer."

OOhohoh! Can it be a Wednesday!?!?

we have a vaccine for cancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433899)

It prevents abut 30% of cancer death.

It has no bad side effects.

It also prevents heart disease and lung disease.

It's called tobacco prevention.

No treatment ever delivered can touch it for safety, effectiveness, and cost effectiveness.

We are not using it. Much. Way less than we could.

Instead, powerful forces are pushing the other way:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/21/us-tobacco-global-deaths-idUSBRE82K0C020120321?rpc=401&feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews&rpc=401

Don't get too excited about tech fix. What matters in cancer may have little to do with it.

Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39433925)

Nice to know.
Unfortunately it is too late ;-(

You don't need to engineer a virus (1)

lew2048 (2571805) | more than 2 years ago | (#39434527)

unless you are a Big Pharma who wants to make $ out of the treatment. The reovirus and about 10 other viruses already attack cancer cells in this way. There have been clinical trails, somewhere in Canada, I believe. If you catch reovirus naturally, you will perhaps feel under the weather for a week or so. On the other hand, the clinical trials that inject reovirus into the tumor have a high rate of complete remission of the cancer. So rethink the usefulness of the FDA : it makes it impossible for 'natural' treatments to be used in medicine by making the cost of taking a substance through the FDA's regulations in the neighborhood of $500M. Without the ability to patent the treatment, no drug company will do that. Next, rethink the entire medical cartel. Every oncologist knows about dozens of these treatments. None can use them without jeopardizing their license to practice medicine. The FDA kills 100s of 1000s of people in the US yearly because it prevents the development of new drugs and the use of 'natural substances' in treatments. We don't die of unsafe drugs (tho the FDA has been pretty bad at that lately), we die of no new drugs at all. Regulations == programming for an open environment == a conceptual oxymoron.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?