Interesting Cancer News

Of course, me being the big medical nerd that I am, I am fascinated by advances in medicine and there were two interesting discoveries of late that got my mind brewing about new medical thrillers and what this could mean for cancer treatment.

First of all, I have to give a shout out to Grey’s Anatomy who had a recent plot line of using genome therapy to cure a child with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (aka SCID.) In order to deliver the therapy, Bailey used deactivated HIV virus to get it into the T-cells– and she did it without the parents permission. The child was cured but the parents were angry and threatened to charge her criminally with assault and battery. Which, by the way, can happen to a healthcare provider if they do something to a patient without their consent.

But I digress . . .

Not soon after this story line was a news piece about how a researcher used a mega dose of measles virus (enough to inoculate 10 million people) to cure a woman’s cancer. She became ill within minutes with a headache and over several hours suffered shaking, vomiting and a fever of 105 degrees.

Then, something interesting began to happen at hour thirty-six, a visible tumor on her forehead started shrinking and eventually disappeared and so did the other tumors in her body until they could not be found.

Evidently, using viruses as cancer treatment (oncolytic viral therapy) has been used since the 1950s but this is the only case where it has been successfully used in disseminated cancer.

The article states they learned two things– a big dose is needed and the patient doesn’t have to have antibodies to the virus.

Sadly, it only worked in one of the two patients injected so further study and more clinical trials need to be complete.

In other cancer news– evidently there has been some thought in cancer circles that there are “cancer stem cells” and even when you get most of the cancer during treatment, if these “mother stem cells” still exist for the cancer, this leads to reoccurrence and metastasis.  The hope is that by killing off the mother cells– you will get a cure for cancer. At this point in time, they’ve been located in blood cancers but the hope is that they exist for all cancer types and targeting these mother stem cells of cancer could provide a new and more effective avenue for treatment.

Medicine is cool.

What do you think about these discoveries? Do they generate in book plots in your mind? 

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