×

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!

A Virus that Attacks Brain Cancer

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the ach-mein-cancerin dept.

Medicine 131

Ponca City, We Love You writes "In the past few years, scientists have looked to viruses as potential allies in fighting cancer. Now researchers at Yale University have found a virus in the same family as rabies that effectively kills an aggressive form of human brain cancer in mice. Using time-lapse laser imaging, the team watched vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) rapidly home in on brain tumors, selectively killing cancerous cells in its path, while leaving healthy tissue intact. 'A metastasizing tumor is fairly mobile, and a surgeon's knife can't get out all of the cells,' says Anthony Van den Pol, lead researcher and professor of neurosurgery and neurobiology at Yale. 'A virus might be able to do that, because as a virus kills a tumor cell, it could also replicate, and you could end up with a therapy that's self-amplifying.' It's not yet clear why VSV is such an effective tumor killer, although Van den Pol has several theories. One possible explanation may involve a tumor's weak vascular system. Vessels that supply blood to tumors tend to be leaky, allowing a virus traveling through the bloodstream to cross an otherwise impermeable barrier into the brain, directly into a tumor."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

131 comments

is this an "I am Legend" promo? (3, Funny)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627242)

The premise of several of the zombie movies is a brain virus that gets out of control. "I am Legnd", "28 days"

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (5, Informative)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627312)

IIRC, in 28 Days, the virus involved was being developed as a bioweapon rather than as a cancer cure.

I don't think that this will lead to a zombie plague, though--I think it's more likely if something goes wrong that the patient would die of encephalitis or something similarly unpleasant.

A 'zombie-like' state would require the virus to target fairly specific areas of the brain--temporal lobes and the like, if I'm remembering my brain geography correctly. Though, of course, this depends on whether you want to produce the 'traditional' shambling-servant type, or the hip new raging maniac type.

Still, if it's a choice between possible death and even more possible death, or between possible zombification and likely death, I'd take the risk. Brain tumors can really mess you up, y'know?

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (2, Interesting)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627414)

You recall wrong. It was being developed as a cure for violent, psychopathic behavior. It, uh.... it didn't work.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (4, Funny)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627456)

That why I prefer G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate for all my pacification needs. Better living with chemistry!

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (2, Funny)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627746)

Yeah, that 0.1% that it backfires on, that's not enough people to really care about now is it? A few nice bribes to the FDA and no problems, right?

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (3, Insightful)

Guppy (12314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628344)

Yeah, that 0.1% that it backfires on, that's not enough people to really care about now is it? A few nice bribes to the FDA and no problems, right?
The medical community would be absolutely thrilled at a "0.1%" rate. Remember to compare with the mortality and quality-of-life of untreated and conventionally treated brain tumors.

Oh, and FDA inspectors (at least the rank-and-file that I've encountered) are known for being very scrupulous -- they follow an strict inspection procedure that is openly published for examination, and are not allowed to accept even a cheap lunch.
 

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (2, Insightful)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22630672)

Particularly GBM, which seems to be the tumor they tested this on. The survival rates for that type are currently abysmal, and anything that raises them is welcome, .1% having side effects or not.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627994)

Given that rabies already produces a real-life zombie plague without specifically targeting temporal lobes, I wouldn't rule out the risk of any virus that penetrates blood-brain barrier. You may take a risk of being a zombie in exchange for certainty of death, but what about all the people whom you might infect by biting, sneezing and so on?

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (2, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628070)

If the hospital isn't already quarantining you for your -own- good due to your suppressed immune system, then there'll be little danger of that, because you'll die of an opportunistic infection rather quickly.

You use about the same procedures for someone who has a severely infectious disease as one who has a suppressed immune system.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628410)

You use about the same procedures for someone who has a severely infectious disease as one who has a suppressed immune system.

You mean soldiers in full-body hazard suits, martial law, nuking of hopelessly infected cities...?

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

SailorSpork (1080153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627336)

Glad to know that I wasn't the only one concerned with the fact that they have no idea why it works. Can we assume this isn't ready for clinical trial outside of a low-makeup-budget zombie movie cast call?

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627386)

I, for one, am going to wait for micro-machine therapy.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (5, Funny)

TheMadcapZ (868196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627496)

I second that. At least with this method if you do become a raging zombie, with the click of a button ,those little buggers can play a round of Dig-Dug in your head thus sparing humanity the ensuing brain eating rampage.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627626)

Some say the world will end in Goo;
Some say in Zombies...
Robert Frost 2010?

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (5, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627390)

Well, to be fair, Edward Jenner had no sweet clue why cowpox would protect someone from smallpox, but once he figured out how to protect people, it was in his best interests to protect as many people as possible rather than waiting for the full 'why' before doing something.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22627710)

rather than waiting for the full 'why' before doing something.
Right!
Because we can use the virus to kill the cancer, then bacteria to kill the virus, then worms to eat the bacteria, birds to eat the worms, cats to eat the birds, dogs to eat the cats, and gorillas to kill the dogs. Don't worry, the gorillas won't be a problem because they'll eventually freeze* to death.

*Note: does not apply to tropical climates

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22629806)

"Edward Jenner had no sweet clue why cowpox would protect someone from smallpox, but once he figured out how to protect people, it was in his best interests to protect as many people as possible rather than waiting for the full 'why' before doing something."

That is just hilarious. Jenner was a fraud. Google 'Dr Hadwen vaccination"...

Repeating bullshit doesn't make you intelligent.

As for this 'research' on brain cancer, more fraud from the vivisectionists. How much longer do we have to wait for a CURE for cancer? 100 years? 500 years? A million years? Vivisectionists are evil psychopaths who enjoy torturing animals, and they're also piss poor scientists, which is why they adopted the 'animal model'. They get paid for FAILING. Why aren't they given ten years to find a cure and then told to find another job?

Think of the children!

Tell me, do animals feel pain? How do you think they experience pain? The same as humans? Or do you think they just manage to survive, and we managed to evolve from them, without feeling pain and finding it the most awful experience in their lives?

Every single medical procedure or medication that is now used in humans was TESTED in HUMANS, i.e. humans were EXPERIMENTED ON. 92% of new drugs that have passed 'animal tests' FAIL in human experiments (otherwise known as 'clinical trials', but they are all actually HUMAN EXPERIMENTS, because, as the 92% figure proves beyond any doubt, the experiments performed on animals in no way predict the human outcomes of those drugs or procedures.)

Hence the first HUMAN recipients of heart transplants DIED, because they were the first HUMAN EXPERIMENTS - i.e. the first experiments that were RELEVANT and PREDICTIVE to humans. And only through MORE human experiments did they finally get human heart transplants to work...

Google 'Baby Fae'...

Cue lots of selfish, self-obsessed sociopaths who pretend to be 'kind' 'caring' human beings in daily life (because they think it gets THEM something in life) who will now ignore all the FACTS above, and try to lambast me for telling the truth.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22631212)

If you didn't know already (seems like it from this post), doing the verbal equivalent of hitting people over the head with a chunk of steel isn't the way to get them to listen to you.

beat me too it (2)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627370)

i was going to say a better title for this story would be "when genuine scientific research imitates disposable scifi movie dialogue"

and add one more movie to your list : i saw that bad 2004 "doom" movie starring the rock last night on tnt, and i was having flashbacks to the movie's dialogue with this story

Re:beat me too it (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627658)

Instead of funding this risky research into brain altering viruses, the government should restore funding for *my* experimental research into a cure for brain cancer!

You see, I, the great Doctor Alexander von Hubris, have found a means by which to re-animate dead cells! But those foolish, short-sighted politicians cut my funding! My colleagues called my research "irresponsible" and "dangerous". And the ethics review panel called my experiments "troubling" and "unnecessarily painful". The fools! They laughed, they all laughed!

But now, I can cure all diseases, because I have now found a way to bring dead tissue back to life! Yes, certain... shall we say, sacrifices... had to be made, but it was all in the name of science! And now, now I have found that which mankind has always dreamed of: a path to immortality. And nothing, I tell you, nothing can possibly go wrong! Tonight, I will test my technique on myself, and then you will see, you will all see!

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

obergfellja (947995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627576)

Won't someone think of the children... They won't be able to distinguish between Resident Evil (video game/Movie) and Reality anymore. Some will even think that Resident Evil is a futuristic documentary, or by their time, a documentary.

Repairman Jack? (1)

Lilith's Heart-shape (1224784) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628300)

Was this virus developed by a guy whose name is an anagram of "RASALOM"? Because this sounds like the plot for one of F. Paul Wilson's "Repairman Jack" novels: Hosts.

Re:is this an "I am Legend" promo? (1)

frission (676318) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628378)

I'm sure you meant "28 Days Later" the Danny Boyle movie about the zombie-like humans that contracted the "Rage" virus, not "28 Days" the Sandra Bullock movie where she's in rehab for 28 Days. :) http://imdb.com/title/tt0191754/ [imdb.com]

Good news and bad news (4, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627250)

Doctor: I have good news and bad news. The good news is, your cancer is under remission.

Patient: And the bad news?

Doctor: We gave you rabies.

Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627314)

From the summary:

'A virus might be able to do that, because as a virus kills a tumor cell, it could also replicate, and you could end up with a therapy that's self-amplifying.'


Yes...and it may also mutate, and you'd wind up with a virus that has developed a taste for healthy brain cells. Granted, the chances are slight, but they're not nonexistent. Don't get me wrong...as the husband of a brain cancer victim, I find this development very exciting. I just have a habit of looking on the darker side of things.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627348)

What are the chances of this virus mutating, do you think? Some of 'em are fragile, yes, but some are fairly resistant to mutation.

Also worth considering is how well this virus is attacked by the immune system, or by antiviral drugs--because, after all, once you've gotten the tumor out, you'd probably want to get rid of the virus as well.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (2, Interesting)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627408)

They found this version of the virus by letting it mutate. Best of breed, you might say. But they were doing the selecting, not nature, so I too wonder what would happen to it in vivo.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (3, Insightful)

cmorriss (471077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627454)

As they stated in the article, they had to immunosupress the mice so that they wouldn't reject the human brain tumor that was put in their brain. This suppression allowed the virus to make its way to the cancer cells without being attacked and killed.

To do this in a normal human being, the virus would have to be engineered in such a way that the immune system somehow let's it go.

Now we have a virus that is engineered to avoid a human immune response. Throw in a dose of your mutation where it attacks human brain cells and we could have a SERIOUS problem on our hands. Scary.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (3, Insightful)

RallyNick (577728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627514)

Or you could temporarily immunosupress the cancer patient?

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (2, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627516)

Not quite.

Chemotherapy already suppresses normal immune response. Combine chemo and this, and you may have an effective treatment regimen for difficult tumors...

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (2, Insightful)

RallyNick (577728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627480)

So you think 5% chance of getting rabbies and dying is worse than 50% chance of dying from brain cancer?

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22627596)

So you think 5% chance of getting rabbies and dying is worse than 50% chance of dying from brain cancer?

what do you have against spiritual leaders of a Jewish congregations? Your chance of being killed by a rabbi is fairly small; as a group, they are pretty well behaved.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (4, Informative)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627676)

Also worthy of pointing out is that the brain isn't patrolled by the immune system. Still, stage IV cancer will kill a person too. Furthermore, this virus .. VSVrp30a isn't a human attacking virus. I believe it would require too high a number of specific mutations in its genome to acquire the ability to target non cancerous cells (though I have no idea what the specific SNP's are). Now before someone runs around claiming this is in the rabies virus family... the amount of mutations required to get there is astronomical (unless there somehow exist conditions for directed evolution).

Viruses that attack tumors (oncolytic viruses), have been studied for years and there is a whole list of them .. check out wikipedia.

Outside the brain most viruses can be handled effectively by the immune system, especially if primed against it (thats why small pox, rabies etc. vaccines exist). Yes, yes, I know HIV and HCV aren't. They're exceptions.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (5, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627732)

Meh. As long as it doesn't become airborne it's no big deal with this type of brain cancer. My mother had it, so I know a decent amount about it.

As it stands, if you get a glioblastoma, you're dead. It may take a year, but more likely you have a lot less, and it won't be quality time either, it will be a quick trip down the road toward being a non-responsive vegetable.

So if the cure kills you, no big deal. Your chances are pretty non-existent either way. Most cancer "cures" are really just a test to see if your normal healthy cells are able to take more punishment than the cancer cells. With a GBF, you're just prolonging the process.

And if it does become airbone? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22629590)

If it is airborne, it would be the ultimate bioweapon.

The individuals, terrorists, or nations that launch the weapon would probably immunize themselves, and then spread it. By the time the virus is detected by the host nation, it would be too late.

Lets be real, theres not enough focus on preventing biological warfare, or bioterrorism, and we all know that it's possible. Just look at what happened in the recent Ricin scare.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22627776)

Harsh mutations occur only in a harsh environment. Rather, it's only then when they are selected instead of the existing most common culture spread.

This explains why the deadliest viruses mutate in hospitals, where it's full of various chemicals that attempt to keep the environment clean (i.e. kill them).

If the therapy doesn't include forcefully attempting to eradicate the virus, but instead let it peacefully co-exist with the healthy part of the body, then it'll be completely harmless and the probability it'll mutate into something horrible are worse than hitting a few million bucks from the lottery.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627788)

First, sorry to hear about your spouse having brain cancer.

Obviously this is one of the many concerns that such a therapy would have and this is far from being to the point of being a viable therapy. However, even if it does turn out that there is a risk of this happening, there are risks with nearly all drugs and therapies and for severe brain cancer the small risk might be worth it.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

vimh42 (981236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627832)

Let's say you have a 5% chance of having your brain eaten if you try a new fangled rabies treatment. Old fashion technique, you have a 30% chance of dying. Doing nothing, you have a 99% chance of dying. You might give it a shot.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628030)

To use actual numbers:

Without therapy, patients with GBMs uniformly die within 3 months. Patients treated with optimal therapy, including surgical resection, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, have a median survival of approximately 12 months, with fewer than 25% of patients surviving up to 2 years and fewer than 10% of patients surviving up to 5 years.

from http://www.emedicine.com/MED/topic2692.htm [emedicine.com]

"Surviving" isn't necessarily a good thing either. I'd certainly give it a shot, even given a 5% chance of the virus developing a taste for healthy brain. In reality that possibility is probably much less.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

znerk (1162519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22629224)

I dunno where the 5% came from, but with a GBM, I'd cheerfully accept a treatment method something along the lines of "we're gonna line up this revolver with your forehead, and spin the chambers. given a 50/50 shot at lining up the barrel properly to remove the cancer, and a 1 in 6 chance of actually firing the bullet, regardless of whether we lined everything up perfectly... so you might die of cancer, you might die from the treatment, or there's about an 8% shot (pardon the pun) that you'll be cured, and go on to live a normal, healthy life."

Having even a 30% chance of having rabies "eat my brain", vs a 75%+ mortality rate within 90 days? Sounds like a good plan, doc, let's roll with it.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628040)

This may be a more common problem than you suspect, and not merely as the result of mutation (most mutations kill or otherwise negatively affect the mutated organism).

[fda.gov]http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/features/2000/500_gene.html [fda.gov]

What's the relevance? The article is about virus therapy, the FDA link is about gene therapy? Gene therapy is generally delivered through the use of modified viruses. (Virii? A pox on you, I say!)

I remember hearing about the Pennsylvania case when it happened, as it sent shockwaves through medical research in the US, whether or not you were involved in gene therapy, or even human trials at all.
Apparently what happened to this particular boy was that they attempted to introduce corrected genes to overwrite his own mutation. They chose a human cold virus as the vector, and injected it into his liver. The result? Acute liver failure. The researcher in charge had been underreporting adverse events. I believe 6 other medical centers had their research closely scrutinized, as they were part of his study. I don't recall any pertinent details though.

That said, one of the things about medical research, or medical treatments in general, is to weigh the benefits of therapy to the risks. For research in particular, the research subject generally bears much more risk, and society stands to benefit more from the research than the subject does.

I echo your sentiments. In the case of aggressive, inoperable brain cancer, I suspect that high risk procedures such as this may be worth pursuing. (With proper informed consent, and proper human research safeguards in place of course!)

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22628552)

Good thing for us that the people making these things have watched all the same movies we have. Also that people in the real world tend to be a bit more cautious anyway.

There are several ways to stop this. For one thing you could stick a "terminator" gene into them, so that they can't reproduce. We have practice with that from GM crops, intended to stop (some of) them from spreading accidentally, and of course to keep the farmer buying new seeds every year. No reproduction, no evolution, and we used bacterial or viral carriers for the gene in the first place. With the "terminator" gene version just give them a new shot of them every couple days until the tumor is gone. A little more expensive but obviously removes some of the risk. Or you could give them a weakness... we can cure rabies before it gets to full-blown mode, maybe weaken this version so much it requires the immune system to be shut down to work - then if something goes wrong just stop the suppression and the body kills it. Also prevents transmission to healthy people.

I mean, sure.... you *could* just take a deadly virus and change it so that it kills cancer... OR you could take a few extra precautions. Nobody's going to be so hasty they end up responsible for a new brain-eating plauge... especially since this particular virus mutation is probably already patented, copyrighted, and trademarked so nobody can steal it.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

carpe.cervisiam (900585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22631252)

Only one problem with that idea. It wouldn't work. The virus kills the tumor cell by reproducing inside the cell until the cell ruptures. If the virus can't reproduce, it can't kill the cancer.

Re:Cure (potentially) worse than the disease? (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22629130)

You said it yourself: it's a chance, but it's a slim chance. Personally, I'd take my chances with the virus over my chances with the cancer.

A more likely "worst case side effect"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22629540)

...would be that in the case of a cancer sufficiently advanced enough, which has generated a substantial blood supply for itself, after you introduce the virus it might rapidly kill off the cancer cells leaving a profusely leaking tangled mess of blood vessels in the void place where the cancer was occupying that would cause enough bleeding inside that part of the brain to cause some damage before it clotted up enough to quit bleeding. Regular surgery might be the best course of action for brain tumours that grown past some size, and then use the virus afterwards to clean up the smaller bits of the cancer that the surgeon dared not cut upon.

Bioweaponry (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22629556)

This sorta research is the exact sorta research one would expect to be conducted for the purposes of biological warfare.

What weapon could be better than a weapon which can infect a nations leaders and drive them all insane?

These insane leaders would still keep their power, and would pass laws which are less and less sane, and do things which are less and less sane.

That's pretty cool, and I hope it's life saving. (2, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627372)

However, as long as we are on the topic of symbiotic relationships, I've always felt that training domesticated zombies to home in on cancer cells as a delicacy would be pretty effective. Remissions wouldn't be a problem, cause zombies have pretty big appetites.

On a tangent, it upsets me when people talk about how the government shortchanges the field of stem cells, when practically nobody is talking about zombie-centric methods of treatment. I swear, you have all these good ideas and can back them up with sound science, and it is as if no one is listening.

Oh well, maybe one day we can grow up in a world where somebody can truthfully say, "... if it wasn't for the walking dead, I wouldn't be here!"

Re:That's pretty cool, and I hope it's life saving (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627472)

The government only short-changes embryonic stem cell research; adult stem cell research is where it's at anyway. ESR generated tissue needs all kinds of fine chemical control to be made to work almost-right, and then the new host rejects it and needs immune system suppression drugs (hi, liver transplant or ESR liver tissue, we need to package a weak form of induced AIDS with that). ASR on the other hand has found many uses (chemo therapy relies on using stem cells extracted from the patient before therapy to rebuild the now-destroyed bone marrow before you die, for example), and some places like OSIR have managed to generate skin and muscle tissue, or even accurately generate tooth buds for whatever kind of tooth they want (stick this in your gum and it grows into a new tooth, forget about repairing your rotted teeth); plus, it's your genetic material, your organs, your teeth, your skin, your immune system does not care.

Re:That's pretty cool, and I hope it's life saving (1)

Sparky McGruff (747313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22630318)

ESR generated tissue needs all kinds of fine chemical control to be made to work almost-right, and then the new host rejects it and needs immune system suppression drugs
It won't reject it if it's cloned. Take an adult cell, clone it to make an early stage embryo, then harvest the stem cells. That's the "therapeutic cloning" angle.

Virus - Tumor - Immune System (2, Insightful)

j3wwy (848834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627398)

"In more-realistic models, the host may have a response to the virus that limits the effect."
Kinda like biological paper-rock-scissors.

Human cells in mice? (2, Interesting)

Cedric Tsui (890887) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627438)

I'm a little surprised that they injected malignant human cells into mice. These viruses do have a different effect on human cells and mouse cells don't they?

If this does end up working, the procedure would have a substantial problem. It would need to be performed on an immuno-suppressed people or else the virus is 'stamped out' before it has a chance to mount an effective attack on the cancer.

Re:Human cells in mice? (4, Insightful)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627510)

I think the main part here is that the virus can penetrate the blood - brain barrier. The reason we don't die all from encephalitis during every cold is that the brain is very well screened against infectious agents. So it doesn't really matter what virus we're using for this, it's the fact that the virus can selectively penetrate into tumor tissue that's the importance of the discovery.

Re:Human cells in mice? (1)

inflamed (1156277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627806)

That's very insightful. We need more of this and less of "what could possibly go wrong?"

Re:Human cells in mice? (2, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627792)

It has an even more serious problem than that: Sure, it's effective against human brain cancer in mice, but unfortunately it's only effective against mouse brain cancer in humans. So, not very useful I'm afraid.

Re:Human cells in mice? (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628146)

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment tend to do a pretty good job of immunosuppression anyway. If you could develop a treatment with a virus, requiring that the patient be immunosuppressed wouldn't be such a big hurdle.

The virus might attack the primary tumor in mice as a result of its having been surgically disrupted during transplantation. That doesn't affect metastases though. Also, the virus might attack normal human cells while leaving normal mouse cells alone, but someone else pointed out that it doesn't normally infect people.

All in all, quite interesting. You're right though, you can't say for sure until you try it in a real person.

Breast (1)

_14k4 (5085) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627478)

Hopefully this will work well, and spin off some thought on breast cancer and other types. My wife had (or has depending on who you ask) breast cancer and any steps toward a cure are good steps, in my opinion.

Yet another cancer treatment... (1, Interesting)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627518)

...that will probobly never see the light of day. Its kind of sad how often we see hopefuly cancer treatments that either don't make it through clinical trials or simply vaporize. I can understand the reasoning if they don't make it through clinical trials, but the others... well, I hate to sound jaded, but it *is* more profitable to treat a disease than cure it. Not to mention this is a virus so rapid mutation is its raison de etre.

Re:Yet another cancer treatment... (2, Insightful)

robertjw (728654) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627690)

One good thing about Brain Cancer, at least from an economic perspective, is that it can be very hard to treat. You can't just remove someone's brain the way you can a breast. I actually new a guy that died from inoperable brain cancer, nothing they could do but make him comfortable.

It *is* profitable to cure someone who has a cancer you can't treat.

Probably for technical reasons (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627702)

Sure it is good to find something new, but very few of these ever work out in the real world. Having a virus eat bad brain cells and leave good ones is one thing, but there are still many other hurdles before this becomes an effective and reliable treatment. For instance, it might ignore good brain cells but it might eat liver cells or spinal nerve cells. The toxins from the broken down brain cells could be quite harmful too.

That said though, if many of our food items were new today, the FDA would ban them. No fizzy drinks because CO2 is poisonous. Put a rat in a bucket of CO2 and it dies! Perhaps the FDA etc are a bit too cautious about some drugs and treatments.

then I say let's make it profitable! (4, Funny)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627948)

Hunting humans is generally frowned upon in modern society but if we loaded dart guns with anti-tumor brain virus and let hunters track cancer victims through a jungle or something then the patient and hunter could go dutch on the treatment. The patient's give them a good hunt and the hunter bags their prey. The incentive for the patient is that they don't have to pay for any of the treatment if they evade the hunter for 3 days.

In the end the hunter gets a happy picture of a bald person with a dart in their ass as a trophy and the patient gets their expensive treatment. We could handle vaccinations for poor 3rd world kids the same way. Next time Angela Jolie goes to bumbuck nowhere I say we hand her a rifle with MMR shots.

Re:Yet another cancer treatment... (2, Informative)

bcwright (871193) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628074)

I hate to sound jaded, but it *is* more profitable to treat a disease than cure it.

By and large this is just simply not true, though it gets repeated so much that it becomes "common knowledge" much like the old wives' tale that you'll get pneumonia by going out in the cold (it may make an existing infection worse, but unless you're exposed to the disease itself you won't get it). In most cases, you can charge quite a bit for a real cure, and besides that the insurance companies will refuse to pay for a more expensive long-term treatment if they know that a real cure exists.

There are exceptions of course, particularly in cases where the expense of finding a cure is very high and the disease is uncommon, so that it's not possible for a cure to make much money unless you're able to charge an astronomical amount for it. There are quite a few of these "orphan" diseases which don't get much attention because there just aren't very many people who suffer from them. Naturally both investors and investigators tend to focus on diseases that affect more than a handful of people - which brain cancer certainly does; I lost my wife to a brain tumor, and I've known a number of other people of all ages who have had them, many of whom died from them, including small children.

One thing that you have to keep in mind is that true "cures" are often very difficult to achieve, especially for tough diseases like cancer. If it were that easy, there are thousands of researchers who would leap at the chance to get their names immortalized in the history of science (not to mention any financial rewards they might obtain).

Sorry, I just don't think that this oft-repeated conspiracy theory will stand up to serious analysis.

Re:Yet another cancer treatment... (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628316)

If that was true there would be no reason for legislation allowing the government to federalize vaccine production.

Re:Yet another cancer treatment... (1)

bcwright (871193) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628606)

If that was true there would be no reason for legislation allowing the government to federalize vaccine production.

That is a singularly bad example. Most of the vaccines that truly require funding by the government are for rare diseases - anthrax, for example, or smallpox (which we still stockpile even though it has been eliminated in the wild for 30 years). For diseases like that, their incidence is so low that they don't make much sense as "investments" - remember that drugs and vaccines have a definite and limited shelf life and if you can't sell them, you lose.

But to show the weakness in your argument, let's say that you run company A and have a patent on a drug that is a long-term treatment for a disease but can never cure it, so that patients have to take the drug for many years or even the rest of their life. Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it? But let's say that I run company B, and have some researchers working for me who have done promising work on a competing drug that looks like it may CURE that same disease. If they succeed, I can charge a lot for my drug, but the value of your drug will go to ZERO (or near enough as to make no difference). Your stockholders will hammer your stock mercilessly, while buying up mine. Doesn't sound like such a good deal any more, does it? Even worse, if you decide just to stand still and reap the profits from your treatment, even if my drug never gets off the ground your patent will eventually expire - after which all of the cheap generics will come in and take away your big profit stream in any event.

My father was a researcher for one of the major drug companies, and I think I can safely say from his experience that the pharmaceutical industry is very cutthroat like that - they won't leave each other's product spaces alone so that they can all make a big profit; rather, they are each trying to maximize the return on their intellectual property. If that means a cure, so much the better - it will wipe out their competition while making lots of money and good publicity for their company.

Re:Yet another cancer treatment... (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628796)

Sure there would be...To give the rest of us a reason to believe that the government has our best interests in mind.

Re:Yet another cancer treatment... (1)

bcwright (871193) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628912)

Sure there would be...To give the rest of us a reason to believe that the government has our best interests in mind.

"I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you."

Yeah right. :-)

Re:Yet another cancer treatment... (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628504)

Dr. Robert Barefoot actually came up with a way of curing cancer by noticing a correlation between body pH and health.

He discovered that you can cure cancer by alkalinizing the body.

Why, then, are we still suffering?

Turns out poor Dr. B got slammed by the medical establishment because he was jeopardizing corporate profits.

As an example, cesium chloride is VERY effective in alkalinizing the body. It was written that if you have a terminal case, and have only 30 days to live, cesium could save your ass. Alkaline atoms so darn big they can't get out of your cells, and quenching the acidity like a ton of baking soda on a drop of vinegar.

However, there was a big "scandal", the inventor lost his medical license and cesium was banned for all time, precisely *because* it worked. Big greedy companies didn't like their patients getting well again, so they ganged up on him and made sure he could never help anyone. It's just like the mafia whacking a witness.

There is a cure for cancer, but unfortunately there are many companies who would rather you not know about it.

Didn't Dr. House know this already? (1)

jimijon (608416) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627794)

If I am not mistaken Dr. House already knew this. He read it in an old Italian medical journal where some doctors gave a patient a low level dose of rabies and it had a positive affect on the cancer.

Dr, House rocks!

;-)

780 days too late... (4, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22627852)

My wife died of the same type tumor tested in TFA, a Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), just over two years ago - only seven weeks weeks after diagnosis.

I believe that 6,000 to 12,000 people are diagnosed with this every year and the death rate for GBM is 100% with an average LE of only 4 - 18 months with successful treatment. All joking aside, anything that can help is welcome.

This is not the first virus found that can kill cancer. The "Reovirus" (commonly found in human respiratory and enteric tracts) also seems to work pretty well. See the following: Curing Cancer? Patrick Lee's Path to the Reovirus Treatment [uwaterloo.ca] and Reovirus to target cancer [bbc.co.uk]

"We injected the tumours directly with the virus," he said. "We were able to see tumour regression within three to four weeks. The regression appears to be complete and the mice are still living after five to six months.
The tumour tissue seems to have been completely eliminated. The next step is tests in human patients.

I don't think so (2, Insightful)

Null Perception (914562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628452)

'Anything' that can help is not necessarily welcome. Maybe it can cure the brain cancer. But who says it doesn't develop into a virus that ends up killing more people per year than the brain cancer was killing?

Re:I don't think so (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22629296)

'Anything' that can help is not necessarily welcome. Maybe it can cure the brain cancer. But who says it doesn't develop into a virus that ends up killing more people per year than the brain cancer was killing?

Well, that wouldn't really be helpful would it. :-) I would imagine that things like this are worked out through testing.

INAV, but I think a virus can only penetrate cells if there's a specific active "pathway" it can use. For example, the Reovirus uses an active Ras pathway and it seems that many types of cancer cells have this pathway, but normal cels do not. When the virus infects the cancer cell, it reprograms it to make more Reovirus and burst, thus destroying the original cancer programming.

As for the Reovirus, this is not a "manufactured" virus and 99% of the population is exposed to by about age 7, which, ironically, makes it hard to deliver into the body as the body already has an immune response for it - and why it's not already keeping us cancer-free naturally.

other cancer-killing virii (2, Interesting)

utopia27 (448035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628056)

Several companies are currently working on cancer-killing viruses. The most broadly used technique involves tailoring an existing virus (one that already dwells in the body) to be able to replicate only in cells with cancer-specific genetic defects. This is fairly straightforward because of the known set of changes that enable a cell to become cancerous. One typical target is the cell's self-destruct circuitry - if the self-destruct circuitry in the cell is enabled, the virus activates it, the cell self-destructs, and no further virii are produced. If the self-destruct circuitry is disabled (as in cancer cells) then the virus replicates, destroying the cell in the process, and millions of additional cancer-killing virii are released into the environment.

One of the exciting prospects is systemic treatment, in which cancer-killing virii are released throughout the bloodstream. The cancer-killing virii will 'run into' cancerous cells - even metastatic ones, and destroy them. This is currently in clinical trial with Oncolytics.

For further reading:
http://www.oncolyticsbiotech.com/tech.html [oncolyticsbiotech.com]
http://www.medigene.de/englisch/ProjektHSV.php [medigene.de]

DISCLOSURE: I am invested in both of these companies.

Re:other cancer-killing virii (1)

netsavior (627338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628678)

Cancer cells do not die a natural death. So is it a good idea if we release all these cancer killing viruses to spread and knock out cancer before we understand how to make healthy cells "immortal"?

Wouldn't it be the kicker if we learned the secret to stopping aging (and staving off death for a few hundred years) right after we released a virus that targeted immortal cells? That would be awesome. It would be like "hey we found the fountain of youth, but the Drs that came before us figured out how to kill it first and did so without any regard to the implications of the "gifts" that cancer could have given us.

That being said, a cure for cancer is better than a longer-term life span I suppose, because it is much closer to our current grasp.

Re:other cancer-killing virii (1)

utopia27 (448035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22630528)

Human longevity and immortality is not directly tied to immortality of individual cells - in fact, it is frequently the most long-lived cells that are most susceptible to cumulative damage leading to cancer. What is more significant is that cells do not normally replicate more than about 400 times - the later generations being progressively weaker and less capable of reproduction. What has been done is to create immortal cell _lines_, in which the n-th generation do not lose their ability to reproduce. The mechanism for this has been to prevent the loss of telomere 'end-caps' on chromosomes. It appears that in normal reproduction these telomeres act as a cell line 'fuse', which causes the cell line to self-terminate.

The self-termination of cell lines can also be productive - damage to the genome accumulates over generations (as well as the life of an individual cell). Cell line immortality is also one of the hallmarks of cancer.

The real question is how to allow _tissues_ to self-repair over the long haul, partly by incorporating genome repair mechanisms to avoid cumulative damage to the genome. This is the real holy grail that bottom-up gerontology researchers are hunting for...

Evolutionarily speaking (3, Interesting)

Mmm_pickles (624458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628592)

It's in the virus's best interest that the host survive. Therefore, a virus that heals the host rather than harming, is more likely to live and infect more hosts.

This development makes me wonder whether we already have other natural, benign viruses helping us out.

Re:Evolutionarily speaking (3, Insightful)

not-enough-info (526586) | more than 6 years ago | (#22630888)

It's in the virus's best interest that the host survive until transmission to a new host.
There. Fixed that for you. Leaving the host alive means it has time to adapt and develop antibodies. Dead hosts don't create antibodies, nor do they produce offspring who are born with said antibodies pre-infection.

Zombies? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628886)

The virus is hungry. It needs "brrrraaaiiiinnnnnzzzz".

Anyone here ever played "Stubbs the Zombie". That was one funny game.

Your sig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22630286)

-1:Troll && -1:Flamebait != -1:StronglyDisagreeAndWishToCensor. Look up the definition of flame/troll.


Don't care.

A dream come true. (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22628940)

I hope I live long enough to see clinical trial of this... and see them go vastly wrong. A zombie plague would be the absolute best thing that could happen to this planet.

Hold on a second... (1)

TheSambassador (1134253) | more than 6 years ago | (#22629208)

Human brain cancer in mice? Are all brain cancers the same, and thus it should be "brain cancer in mice," or do mice have a similar kind of brain cancer to humans?

Failsafe (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22629448)

If you really wanted to prevent mutation just remove the RNA sequence from the viral shell. The ability to target cancer cells is almost assuredly on the protein coat that binds to the cells. Just remove the RNA from the virus, replace it with a drug that causes apoptosis, and inject into host. Sure it won't self replicate so the production costs would probably be larger, but there will be zero chance of mutation and you can regulate the virus' levels in the host far more easily.

Finally! (1)

Rui del-Negro (531098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22630444)

"researchers at Yale University have found a virus in the same family as rabies that effectively kills an aggressive form of human brain cancer in mice."

Finally those poor mice will be free from the scourge of human brain cancer!

whatcouldpossiblygowrong is for once apropriate (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 6 years ago | (#22630538)

Mark this in the slashdot history, finally an application of that tag where it makes sense (as opposed to, for example, the observation that DNA tends to associate with homologous sequences).

Live viruses have been used for medical purposes already though. Vaccina, a strain of virus related to smallpox, is administered to vaccinate against smallpox. More importantly, I've heard about attempts to treat brain tumors by applying modified herpesvirus to infect the tumor cells, then using an anti-herpes medication. Not sure how those trials went.

This development makes me wonder whether we already have other natural, benign viruses helping us out.

I do remember there being some conjecture that certain DNA elements may have started out as viral elements. I've never heard of those elements or viruses having a beneficial effect.

Among mice in the wild, there is a virus that is usually inherited at birth (can't remember the name). When it is inherited at birth, it has no known negative effect. If a mouse is born without the virus and is not exposed to it until adulthood, the mouse will mount an immune response to it that is lethal (to the mouse).

I am legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22630596)

So I'm assuming the researchers haven't watched the remake (if you can call it that) of "I am legend".

Legend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22630812)

Isn't this how the plot in I am legend starts?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...