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Biotech Science

Killing Cancer With a Virus 662

Posted by Hemos
from the kill-it-dead dept.
just___giver writes "The U.S. National Cancer Institute has just decided to fund multiple human clinical studies to test the reovirus. This naturally occuring virus has a remarkable ability to infect and kill cancer cells, without affecting normal, healthy cells. Here is a before and after picture of a terminal patient with an actively growing neck tumour that had failed to respond to conventional treatments. This tumour was eliminated with only a single injection of the Reovirus. Researchers at Oncolytics Biotech have shown that the Reovirus can kill many types of cancer, including breast, prostate, pancreatic and brain tumours. Human clinical trial results indicate that there are no safety concerns and that the reovirus shrinks and even eliminates tumours injected with this virus. Numerous other third party studies show that the reovirus should be an important discovery in the treatment of 2/3 of all human cancers."
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Killing Cancer With a Virus

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @03:56PM (#7389306)
    If this is a miracle, then why not approve it for people who will die without it. I mean, if I was in severe pain and going to die, I'd try it in a second.

    Hope is better than nothing.
    • by RLW (662014) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:03PM (#7389393)
      Hope *is* better than nothing. New treatments are tried on terminal patients all the time: just like the person in the before and after links. However, non-terminal patients are not given experimental treatments until the studies are completed based on the effects experienced from the first group: the group everyone hopes they're never in. Once the medical community is convinced that this really works and once they have a handle on the side effects then the treatment will move outward from the most critically ill to other may benefit from it.
    • Check out the link with the details on the trails conducted. Study groups of 18.... 24....

      This investigational drug/virus has a long way to go before there is acceptance.

    • by Liselle (684663) <slashdot AT liselle DOT net> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:10PM (#7389493) Journal
      You must not live in the same country as I do. I can see someone using this treatment, dying (either related or unrelated to the treatment, it doesn't matter), and the surviving family sues for millions. Waivers be damned, because whenever you beleive something is unthinkable, there is always someone out there who thinks they are entitled to something. The United States is the land of malpractice insurance (!!!), after all.
      • by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:51PM (#7389892)
        it's not necessarily different by country... it even varies by state. My state, for instance, just passed malpractice caps on noneconomic damages... and even despite that, I'm in the process of losing my malpractice insurance (despite having NO claims against me). They are dropping me like a bad habit, and if I want to stayed insured, it's going to cost me double what it was before (that's if I can even get insured).

        Most of these unlabeled uses of drugs/viruses/devices are done under compassionate use protocols of one type or another. There is also "emergency use," which can even be done before clinical trials... try this link [fda.gov] for some more info.

        Even so, you should read the fine print. Even for emergency use, you still have to consult your IRB (that's "institutional review board" for you non-medical folks... they can veto what you want to do), and at least one other physician before submitting the paperwork... and who knows how long before your approval comes back? I've not personally submitted one of these (I am not an oncologist), so I won't speculate on the time frame, though I'd hope they would bypass the usual beauracratic delays.
        • by soft_guy (534437) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:36PM (#7390362)
          I have done research that had to go through an IRB. I am not a physician - I have an MSR in psychology (dropped out of a PhD program in Human Factors to become a developer). I had to go through the IRB in order to get permission to experiment on human subjects.

          Mine went pretty fast. The looked at it and approved it in one meeting, so I had to wait about a month total. I was not giving people drugs, though. I was doing a psychophysics type experiment.

          If you're doing something like this, I would expect it to take from several months to a year.
    • that's why they have (Score:5, Informative)

      by The Tyro (247333) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:21PM (#7389611)
      Compassionate use protocols for some drugs... for people who are terminally ill and have nothing to lose by trying risky, untested drugs.

      They've been using this in HIV patients for years. The only reason I could see them being more hesitant to treat cancer patients in a like manner is this: there ARE treatments for cancer that are curative... most all the treatments for HIV simply buy time... they do not eliminate the disease. Chemo is extraordinarily unpleasant, but it does have a proven track record...
    • Here is info about FDA clincical drug testing policy. Phase 1 = This is the initial test in humans for safety. This phase is to rule out inherently dangerous drugs that were not caught in the animal tests. Since we are different species this is absolutely necessary. Of course, some medications were ruled out in the animal phase which might have worked very well in humans. Common aspirin fits this picture. Aspirin causes abortions of mice and rat fetuses. Under todays rules aspirin could never reach the hum
    • Because hope gets lost in the noise.

      For any particular type of cancer there are probably hundreds of promising treatments. Which ones do you put your hope in? Whose advice do you take? How do you know that it will help and not hurt? What if you pick the wrong one and waste your time when there was a better choice?

      There is a reason for clinical trials and all of the procedures that a treatment has to go through for approval. If nothing else it forces the drug companies to spend the money on the scienc
  • How do they know? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FractusMan (711004) *
    How do they know of any long-term effects this virus might have? I imagine it would take at least a few years to observe any feasable side-effects. Am I wrong?
    • Re:How do they know? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mtrupe (156137)
      Certainly it will take a while. Unfortunately, people with terminal cancer whose alternative is worse than any possible side-effects, will have to wait for further research and FDA red tape for many years.
    • True...it will take some time to find out the long term effects. But personally, if I had cancer, I'd accept the treatment so that I could still be around see what those side effects are...
    • With terminal patients does it really matter if side effects develop is a few years? Without the treatment they'd be dead in a few months anyway. Might as well just see what happens.
    • Re:How do they know? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Chmcginn (201645) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:07PM (#7389456) Journal
      Well, if we're to believe the article, only cells with "an activated RAS pathway" are consistently affected by the virus. Now, I suppose that most cells don't generally have this, and that's why they are unaffected. But... are there any non-cancerous conditions in which this happens? They you've just got a very, very effective way of killing whatever set of cells that is...
    • Typically, virii (or viruses, whatever) manifest their effects realtively quickly, due largely in part to the nature of the virus life cycle.

      In addition, if the virus only responds to the receptors found on cancer cells (which is, I imagine, how it works), then there is next to no chance of it ever infecting normal healthy cells.

      Though, I agree...this should be studied for a couple of more years, just to be on the safe side. However, I'm nigh positive that this could lead to a definitive cancer cure.
      • Re:How do they know? (Score:5, Informative)

        by martyros (588782) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:25PM (#7389646)
        In addition, if the virus only responds to the receptors found on cancer cells (which is, I imagine, how it works), then there is next to no chance of it ever infecting normal healthy cells.

        Actually, the FAQ linked to by the article has a very simple description of how it works:

        6. Why doesn't the reovirus infect normal cells?

        It enters normal cells, but when this happens, an anti-viral response mechanism is turned on and the virus is quickly eliminated. Anyone injected with reovirus is usually able to clear it completely from the body in about two weeks.

        7. Why does the reovirus kill cancer cells?

        Scientific studies have demonstrated that approximately two-thirds of all human cancer cells have an activated Ras pathway, one of the most common set of mutations leading to cancer. An activated Ras pathway leads to a constant barrage of growth signals to the cell, causing uncontrolled growth. In cells with an activated Ras pathway, the anti-viral response appears to be turned off. When reovirus infects one of these cancer cells, it is able to replicate and eventually kill the cancer cell. Up to 5,000 progeny virus organisms can then infect and kill surrounding cancer cells. Theoretically, the cycle of infection, replication and cell death will continue until there are no longer any cancer cells accessible.

        So in fact, it can and does infect normal cells; but it's so weak that it never causes any problem. Elsewhere on the FAQ it says that most humans show evidence of having been infected by it at some time (it's a naturally occuring virus).

    • Re:How do they know? (Score:4, Informative)

      by denisonbigred (611860) * <nbn2.cornell@edu> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:14PM (#7389538)
      But ethically dubious experiments in which prisoners were injected with reovirus found that infection caused at most mild flu-like symptoms. Many people have been infected by reovirus as children with little effect more than a runny nose.

      That text comes from section 3 of this [uwaterloo.ca] article. So it would seem that the answer to your question was determined quite some time ago.
    • Re:How do they know? (Score:5, Informative)

      by sosume (680416) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:24PM (#7389641) Journal
      When you are trying to fight cancer with an adenovirus, like a particularly nasty common cold, you get a mutated adenovirus that seems to copy itself only in cells that lack a functioning copy of a gene called p53 that repairs damaged or mutated DNA. If the DNA is then too smashed up to be repaired, p53 instructs the cell to self-destruct. Since cancer occurs when DNA becomes so badly battered that it stops regulating cell growth and behavior, it is not surprising p53 has stopped working in more than half of human tumors..
    • Re:How do they know? (Score:5, Informative)

      by SmokeSerpent (106200) <{moc.wnsp} {ta} {nimajneb}> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:28PM (#7389679) Homepage
      RTA


      3. What is the reovirus
      Reovirus stands for Respiratory Enteric Orphan Virus. The reovirus is a naturally occurring virus to which most of us have been exposed in our lifetime. It is a non-pathogenic virus, meaning that it is not usually associated with any illness. Between 70 and 100 per cent of the population show signs of previous reovirus infection, which is usually confined to the respiratory or gastrointestinal systems in the body.

      6. Why doesn't the reovirus infect normal cells?
      It enters normal cells, but when this happens, an anti-viral response mechanism is turned on and the virus is quickly eliminated. Anyone injected with reovirus is usually able to clear it completely from the body in about two weeks.
      Back To Top

      7. Why does the reovirus kill cancer cells?
      Scientific studies have demonstrated that approximately two-thirds of all human cancer cells have an activated Ras pathway, one of the most common set of mutations leading to cancer. An activated Ras pathway leads to a constant barrage of growth signals to the cell, causing uncontrolled growth. In cells with an activated Ras pathway, the anti-viral response appears to be turned off. When reovirus infects one of these cancer cells, it is able to replicate and eventually kill the cancer cell. Up to 5,000 progeny virus organisms can then infect and kill surrounding cancer cells. Theoretically, the cycle of infection, replication and cell death will continue until there are no longer any cancer cells accessible.
  • by Thinkit3 (671998) * on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @03:57PM (#7389324)
    Well, it could have cured cancer for all, but that would threaten the integrity of our "intellectual property" system!
    • Well... (Score:4, Funny)

      by Prince_Ali (614163) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:11PM (#7389511) Journal
      When you cure cancer you can release the cure under the GPL, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
    • It said the virus is naturally occuring, which means they merely found it rather than invented it. So, to me, that means it can't be patented. But then again, this *is* the USPTO we're talking about here, so you're probably right.
      • by Kazymyr (190114) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:57PM (#7389950) Journal
        Yes, the reovirus is naturally occuring - in fact it's quite common. It is one of the viruses causing what is generically known as "common cold". Runny nose et caetera.

        However, how many cancer patients caught the common cold and were thus cured? Right, none. The virus that they're using in the trials is definitely genetically manipulated, not native. And that's patentable (and rightfully so).
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:37PM (#7390373) Homepage
      What a load of crap.

      Yes, a company could patent the usage of this retrovirus for curing cancer. Sure, the virus has existed for some unknown amount of time, but the usage of it as a method to cure cancer would certainly fulfill the "new" and "non-obvious" requirements for patent law.

      And, hey, maybe they'll make some money on doing so as long as they license it widely at some low cost. After all, they certainly spent some money in finding out that the retrovirus causes the anti-cancer effect, and paid for the trials, and whatnot to go forward. Shouldn't they receive some compensation for doing so?

      And what will happen if they try to charge too much for it? Particularly if the retrovirus can be easily manufactured from existing natural sources?

      They'll discover that countries will nationalize their patent and they'll get bupkis. It's happened before, both in and outside of the US, and it'll happen again. And even for similar causes. Numerous South American and African countries do not recognize the patents on various HIV medications. The drug companies have been told that they can either sell it for a fixed price (or, more likely, be paid a fixed amount by the government regardless of how much is administered) or the government will simply nationalize the patent and the drug companies will get nothing. Generally they go for the settlement.

      Of course, it's not that simple. Every time this occurs it's a disincentive for the drug companies to actually produce miracle cures, or even to produce treatment drugs for maladies. Do you spend $100M on research for degenerative neural disorders like Alzheimer's and MS, knowing that if you succeed you might never see the money back, or do you spend it on a drug to reduce anxiety, depression, or other sociological problems -- which aren't likely to ever be nationalized? And while I agree that drugs are often overpriced, the flip side to that is it's hideously expensive to actually get a new drug approved by the FDA and its counterparts (mostly in Europe). It costs millions of dollars. And most of them fail to get through the process. You can look at streamlining the process, but then you run the risk of having drugs with very bad side effects slipping through.

      Do you want to leave actually finding cures up to purely governmental/good will efforts? Especially when a lot of the best are going to go into private industry because the pay is better?

      Sorry, the real world isn't as simple as your flippant "intellectual property" comment. It's far more complex, and there are no easy solutions.
  • by Jade E. 2 (313290) <slashdot@perl s t o rm.net> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @03:58PM (#7389328) Homepage
    Damnit, I wanted to cure cancer. Oh, well, I guess I'll just move on to the next thing on my list, stopping aging.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @03:59PM (#7389348)
    They aren't going to be able to use headlines like this anymore on their stories:

    Scientific study concludes that eating a lot of fast food and sitting in front of the TV makes you fat. Still no cure for cancer.
  • Oh great- (Score:3, Funny)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:00PM (#7389361) Homepage Journal
    I just finished deleting all those viruses off a client's network, and *now* you tell me they can be used for good? ..oh wait
  • good... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mantera (685223) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:00PM (#7389363)


    i find these as very very welcome news, especially so that i have personally seen the effects of conventional therapies; if you're lucky you'll have a tumor they can cut out, if not then too many of those chemotherapies are way too toxic, and quite a few radiotherapies too.
    • Re:good... (Score:4, Informative)

      by conteXXt (249905) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:09PM (#7389474)


      Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis by cannabinoids.

      Blazquez C, Casanova ML, Planas A, Del Pulgar TG, Villanueva C, Fernandez-Acenero MJ, Aragones J, Huffman JW, Jorcano JL, Guzman M.

      Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, School of Biology, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain.

      Cannabinoids, the active components of marijuana and their derivatives, induce tumor regression in rodents (8). However, the mechanism of cannabinoid antitumoral action in vivo is as yet unknown. Here we show that local administration of a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid to mice inhibits angiogenesis of malignant gliomas as determined by immunohistochemical analyses and vascular permeability assays. In vitro and in vivo experiments show that at least two mechanisms may be involved in this cannabinoid action: the direct inhibition of vascular endothelial cell migration and survival as well as the decrease of the expression of proangiogenic factors (vascular endothelial growth factor and angiopoietin-2) and matrix metalloproteinase-2 in the tumors. Inhibition of tumor angiogenesis may allow new strategies for the design of cannabinoid-based antitumoral therapies.

      PMID: 12514108 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    • Re:good... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zathrus (232140) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:16PM (#7389560) Homepage
      I've seen the effects too -- my father died of cancer, my mother had breast cancer (caught it amazingly early fortunately), I worked on an oncology floor at a local hospital for three years, and one of my coworker's kids has leukemia (in the last stages of treatment, fortunately, and doing well).

      The chemotherapy and radiotherapy is nasty, and this looks a lot better (at least, as long as it doesn't mutate as viruses are wont to do). But very few people actually die from the chemo/radiotherapy, at least not directly. A lot of people don't find out that they have cancer until the cancer is well formed. Once the cancer metastatizes and starts to spread there's very little that modern medicine can do for you (this may change that, as may the nanotech "bullets" I read about earlier today). All chemo and radiation can do at that point is attempt to minimize the suffering -- and I question that they do this for the most part.

      Anyway, it's not the chemo/radiation that gets you. It's the side effects. By and large we use the same chemo drugs that we've used for decades, as well as the same radiotherapy methods. We've refined the dosages, but that's about it. Where the real breakthroughs have been is in the medicines to treat the side effects of the chemo -- nausea, dizziness, low white blood count, and so forth. And we've made strides on drugs to treat the side effects of those drugs. And so forth. Cancers that were fatal (as in 0% survival rate) twenty years ago now have an 80% survivability rate (my coworker's son is one such case). That's pretty amazing.

      Even so, if there's a better solution out there, with fewer side effects, let's go for it. I hope the testing goes well. I'd also like to know what you need to do to be put on the human testing list. My sister's mother-in-law has been given less than 6 months to live, in part due to cancer that has metastatized and is pretty much everywhere now. It's likely that the cancer's done too much damage for her to recover though... and we don't have a magic bullet to cure that issue. Yet.
      • Re:good... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ViolentGreen (704134) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:51PM (#7389894)
        I too know the effects of cancer first hand as well as those of chemotherapy. Most everyone that I have known that has been though chemo, said that if the cancer comes back and they are left with the choice to take the chemo or die, they'd choose death. While they might change their minds if/when the situation does come it speaks of the need for a better type of treatment. I am not against chemotherapy as it's the most effective treatment at the time, but it is so painful and takes years away from the patients life. Hopefully this treatment will be as promising as it sounds and in 100 years people will look back and see chemo as a barbaric, however effective, cure. Hopefully....
    • Re:good... (Score:5, Informative)

      by CrackHappy (625183) * on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:54PM (#7389912) Journal
      I had cancer. Thank God they were able to cut it out. I can't stress enough the importance of getting your ass to the doctor if you even suspect something is wrong. All you young men out there, listen up. Testicular cancer is MOST LIKELY to strike between the ages of 25-35. Also note, 98% of ALL masses detected in testicles are cancerous. In other words, when fondling yourself, if you notice anything weird at all, especially anything hard, get yourself checked by your doctor ASAP. Also note Testicular cancer is one of the fastest spreading cancers, but also the easiest to cure, IF it's caught early enough.

      The treatment sucks, but it's better than dying!
  • by div_2n (525075) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:02PM (#7389378)
    I have long suspected that the best cures for the worst diseases would be "surgical strike" techniques instead of the all or nothing approach of radiation and chemotherapy type solutions.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see nanotech get involved in the action at some point.

    Anyone looking to invest in companies for the long term should pay attention to companies that do this type of work.
    • Nanotech (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Baron_Yam (643147) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:07PM (#7389455)

      This seems to me to BE nanotech. It's just produced by nature instead of someone in a lab coat.

      The really cool thing to do with this virus (assuming it really is harmless to normal human cells) would be to create an implant with a hospitible environment that 'feeds' it and keeps a minimum population of viable viruses in your body for an extended period of time to whack cancers as they start.

      • Re:Nanotech (Score:3, Insightful)

        by div_2n (525075)
        I guess technically it IS nanotech. I just meant human-made non-organic (or viral) nanotech.

        Or maybe a twice a year innoculation against cancers.

        Now if they could program these things to seek and destroy cells infected by various VD's and put an end to one of the biggest dangers of sex then the world would be a very interesting place indeed.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd,bandrowsky&gmail,com> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:03PM (#7389394) Homepage Journal

    Hah, here I was thinking I'd have to quit. Now, I'll just get a shot and knock the tumor right out.

  • Clarify (Score:5, Informative)

    by forand (530402) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:06PM (#7389432) Homepage
    It seems people think that we made this virus, if you go to the link [oncolyticsbiotech.com] in the overview you will see that:
    3. What is the reovirus Reovirus stands for Respiratory Enteric Orphan Virus. The reovirus is a naturally occurring virus to which most of us have been exposed in our lifetime. It is a non-pathogenic virus, meaning that it is not usually associated with any illness. Between 70 and 100 per cent of the population show signs of previous reovirus infection, which is usually confined to the respiratory or gastrointestinal systems in the body.

    4. Where does the reovirus come from? Reovirus is found naturally in shallow pools of water, lakes or streams or in the sewage system.

    Hope this clarifies things.
    • Re:Clarify (Score:5, Funny)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:09PM (#7390102)
      4. Where does the reovirus come from? Reovirus is found naturally in shallow pools of water, lakes or streams or in the sewage system.

      And people used to LAUGH at me when I would swim around in raw sewage!!! Who's laughing now, huh?!?


  • Some biotech companies have been known to lie about drug pipelines and even to trial patients in order to boost their stock prices.

    Does the name Ethyol ring a bell?

  • by The Pi-Guy (529892) <joshua+slashdot@@@joshuawise...com> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:06PM (#7389442) Homepage
    Is it just me or does htis sound like the Recolada virus that was created in Xenocide? (Is that a 'layman's' way to explain it?)
    • Not really. In Xenocide, the humans could already kill the Descolada virus. The problem was that the entire ecosystem of Lusitania had been altered by the Descolada, making it dependent on the existence of the virus to reproduce. Ela Ribeira created the Recolada virus which filled the reproductive functions of the Descolada but did not kill. It was then used to replace the Descolada in Lusitania's ecosystem.
  • I was reading the FAQ on this virus and it said that 70-100% of any given population has evidence that it has been exposed to this virus before. I may be wrong, but I had always been told that once you have been infected by a virus, you can't be infected again. If that's the case, does this viral "drug" only work on people who have never been exposed to the virus before?

    I will say though.... This is truly amazing if it works as well as reported.
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AlaskanUnderachiever (561294) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:16PM (#7389553) Homepage
      It "partially" works because you have antibodies to the virus already. Your body recognizes the particles of virus as a "bad guy" and while the virus tends to attack the tumor cells, the body itself is eliminating the virus and any tumor cells infected with it.

      However, it appears that the virus itself is fairly effective at killing of tumor cells on it's own which is fairly interesting. As it's not associated with any pathogenesis this is definately an interesting step.

      Yes you can get infected more than once, hell you can get reinfected over and over again. If you have antibodies it'll probably be a fairly asymptomatic infection (pardon my spelling).

  • Using cancer-cell-specific viruses isn't too new (although the NCI funding is). My lab has been working with this company [onyx-pharm.com] for a little over a year on their attenuated adenovirus for cancer-specific targeting.
  • I have a freind with advanced prostate cancer. It's in his bone marrow. From the link, I doubt he would be a candidate since his prostate is already gone. However, I would like to know if this treatment (once it's approved) would benefit him. Since the cancer has already spread throughout his body, I doubt it.
  • by dalutong (260603) <djtansey@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:08PM (#7389470)
    I have recently had a relative and family friend die from cancer.

    In the case of my friend he only found out nine months before his death that he even had cancer. They tried every treatment available, but it had spread too far.

    Something like this would have been wonderful. Once they had found out that it was far too wide-spread for normal treatments Ronnie would have jumped at a chance for this.

    Some may say that we should try it without knowing the long-term effects, I disagree. With terminally ill patients there is no hope. This provides a double solution -- not only should the virus kill the cancer, it provides the patient with a reason to keep on fighting.

    I hope they get this to all the terminally ill patients that they can ASAP.
  • We all know that a patent will follow from this "discovery"... can you patent something that is naturally occurring, and that 70-100% of us have already been exposed to?
  • by eyeball (17206) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:09PM (#7389480) Journal
    Ok, I am not a biologist, and have no scientific basis for this, but...

    According to the FAQ:


    4. Where does the reovirus come from?

    Reovirus is found naturally in shallow pools of water, lakes or streams or in the sewage system.


    So assuming that we could naturally ingest these Reoviri, would someone in a cleaner environment be at a higher risk for cancer (or more to the point, a higher risk from dieing before the Reovirus healed them)? It would be really interesting to find out that drinking bottled water and organtic foods is actually increasing the risk of death from cancer.
    • by mbrod (19122) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:49PM (#7389876) Homepage Journal
      Someone correct me if I get the bacteria or the cancer wrong but if I remember right 3rd world countries have a much lower rate of prostate cancer because they have more exposure to E Coli bacteria.

      Obvioulsy big bad doses of E Coli in meat kill us so we don't want to run out and do that but you get the point.

      Maybe a biologist could explain this better.

    • would someone in a cleaner environment be at a higher risk for cancer (or more to the point, a higher risk from dieing before the Reovirus healed them)? It would be really interesting to find out that drinking bottled water and organtic foods is actually increasing the risk of death from cancer.

      As others have pointed out here, the benefits of living in a clean environment most likely outweigh living in filth and contracting a few "beneficial" viruses.

      However there is something to be said for not living

    • "I never get colds, I never get infections, I don't gett'em! You know why? Cause I got a good strong immune system!.... When I was young, we swam in the Hudson River, and at the time, it was filled with raw sewage. We swam in raw sewage.. you know, to COOL OFF!

      And at that time, the big fear was polio.. No one in my neighborhood ever got polio.. EVER! You know why?! BECAUSE WE SWAM IN RAW SEWAGE! The polio never had a prayer, we we're tempered in liquid shit!"

      - George Carlin

      Ahh yes.. once again scien
    • by NaugaHunter (639364) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:13PM (#7390145)
      This helps back my (otherwise unfounded) theory that too many of these anti-bacterial cleaning supplies will doom the human race. Of course, I was looking at it from the point of view that if we raise children unexposed to filth they'll be far more susceptible once they are exposed. This study gives the possibility that there may be more naturally occuring aids that we are destroying through our ignorance.

      Consider: if Alexander Fleming had been more conscientious about cleaning his petri dishes, he may never have found penicillin. (Reference [pbs.org] - I'd heard it was an accident, but never knew it was on a dish in a sink waiting to be cleaned.) Reading this article, it also occurs to me that while no one can (probably) patent a naturally occuring virus, they probably can patent an effective growing/harvesting process.
  • by Gldm (600518)
    Now we've exhausted the wonders list for our civilization to build! I guess we go conquering enemy cities then?
  • Anything that shows any improvement in the survival rates for pancreatic cancer would be fantastic. Currently pancreatic cancer is basically a death sentence, with a 5% survival rate at 5 years.

    I know it's a cliche, and a total farkism, but every time I read about something like "Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans" [archaeoworld.com] I can't help but think perhaps some of our scientists could find a little better use for their time.

    -dameron
  • by Alethes (533985) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:15PM (#7389542)
    Here is an article [cnn.com] concerning the possiblity of using scorpion venom to cure cancer.
  • by mariox19 (632969) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:15PM (#7389547)

    Reading the article (which by the way puts one in the top 1% of /. readers), it seems this reovirus is quite common, and that non-cancerous cells kill it off quite readily. I wonder though if this reovirus has ever "wandered in" on cancer cells in a patient and led to remission in that patient.

    You always here anecdotal stories about some people recovering in cases where others haven't, and it's usually attributed to God, positive thinking, a close family, and so forth.

    Maybe it's been these little buggers all along.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:15PM (#7389549)
    Using viruses to attack diseases is a technique [nature.com] from the early 20th century. It was widely used in Russia, but fell out of favor when anitbiotics were discovered. It appears to be reviving.
    • I remember seeing a PBS show on this - where a doctor would go to the sewage pipe exiting his hospital (directly into the local river, BTW) and hold a large beaker in the stream to collect a sample.

      The collected samples would be applied, a drop at a time, into various petri dishes with a harmful bacterial culture. He'd then wait to see if any particular culture started to die, and then look in that dish to see what was doing it. Final stage, feed it more of the original culture until you have lots of the

  • by Doktor Memory (237313) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @04:42PM (#7389834) Journal
    Blatant astroturfing: this article is hyping a completely unproven treatment, and was written by an employee of the company. This is news? Every biotech company has a "promising" anti-cancer treatment in development.
    • by Dave21212 (256924) <dav@spamcop.net> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:28PM (#7390289) Homepage Journal

      You hit that one on the head... It's a company PR release no less. Interesting, but definitely astroturf.

      From the ONCY Yahoo Stock message board [yahoo.com]...
      slashdot submission ??? need help

      by: just_9_giver
      Long-Term Sentiment: Strong Buy 11/03/03 06:12 pm
      Msg: 5822 of 5871
      (response to RJC's question)
      I'm thinking its time to submit a summary with good links to http://www.slashdot.org

      With luck, it'll get 15 minute of fame in geekdome. Every news writer of any substance reads this site. It might even show up on Google's news page right away.

      The trick is to get a good story submission. It should have one link that points to a recent article. I was thinking the NCI article would be appropriate

      Any tips for links and a couple of paragraph summary? Probably easier to collaborate on this rather than try to come up with it all by myself.

      Posted as a reply to: Msg 5817 by rjc2827
      • Just because the guy posted to the Yahoo message board before posting to Slashdot doesn't mean he's a PR flack, or that this is astroturfing. And that he wanted some help with putting the submission together points even more towards someone who is not associated with the company.

        -Todd
    • OK, I'll bite (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rikardon (116190) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @06:17PM (#7390671)
      Patrick Lee, the scientist behind all of this, has been researching the reovirus for over twenty years. We (that's the University of Calgary, my alma mater) just lost him to Dalhousie University, and they haven't stopped bragging [www.dal.ca] since.

      When the first word of this treatment hit the papers five years ago in 1998, his colleagues at other universities (read: his competitors) were quoted saying (I'm paraphrasing) that if Patrick Lee has published, you know the science has to be solid. The peer-reviewed journals agree: he's been published in Cell, Nature, Science and Nature Cell Biology, among others.

      This is the real deal. I've put my money where my mouth is, too: several thousand dollars of my own money is banking on this.
  • by Sparr0 (451780) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:27PM (#7390281) Homepage Journal
    The Umbrella Corporation.
  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @05:42PM (#7390413)
    My senior year of High School in the late 1990's went something like this:

    Mother diagonsed with a rare form of Breast Cancer, and caught in stage 4 despite regular check ups and mamagrams.

    Very ill due to chemo treatments. Made an effort to see my marching competitions, but couldn't be around large crowds.

    Had to drop out of several activities because she was in and out of the hospital including an audition for a music scholarship to college.

    Day of prom, rushed to the hospital, discovered the tumor has spread to her brain. Spent my senior prom in an emergancy waiting room.

    Made it through graduation, but couldn't walk without a walker and after my graduation party went into the hospital that night. Found the cancer in her spine, didn't respond to any more treatments and watched my mother waste away for the next month at home until she died exactly 1 month after my high school graduation.

    Some how I managed to regain enough will to enter college just over six weeks later.

    I hope this isn't some marketing/investment blitz and that this might be a giant leap forward in cancer treatment. Sometimes I wonder if these companies want to find a cure. I mean, research is profitable business. Just look at the March of Dimes. Their orginial goal was to help find a cure for Polio and after one was discovered, they had to find a new mission.

  • by Momomoto (118483) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @06:16PM (#7390666) Homepage
    The lab at which I'm doing my Honours research project just made the front page [cancercell.org] on October's issue of Cancer Cell [cancercell.org] for doing work similar to this, only using vesicular stomatitis virus. The group on the lab bench across from me is working on oncolytic adenovirus.

    It's shameful that the companies who make the most press releases get the most attention.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @07:36PM (#7391272) Homepage Journal
    This work is scientifically very interesting but it's a long way from curing cancer.

    On the Oncolytics web site, they only list Phase I and Phase II trials. That's just to evaluate safety and dosing. In Phase III, they finally get around to testing for effectiveness, and they haven't done that yet.

    I've seen lots of drugs that did this well in Phase II trials but flunked Phase III. I remember seeing Fortune magazine with the headline on the cover, "Cure for Cancer!" 20 years ago. Unfortunately not. (They got over-enthusiastic about cancer vaccines.)

    Phase III is a randomized controlled trial. They randomly assign half the patients to the drug, and half the patients to a placebo. If it really works, you should see the difference. A lot of times it doesn't work and you know the drug is useless. Until the RCT you don't know anything for sure.

    Another distinction you have to make is the end point. It's one thing to shrink a tumor, but the main thing most cancer patients are interested in is whether they're going to die. There are a lot of drugs that shrink tumors, but have no effect on how long they live.

    Here's a discussion, "Levels of Clinical Evidence in the Primary Literature" [uic.edu]which describes the different levels of evidence. Or look at BMJ [bmj.com] Or if you want to search Google look for "Evidence-based medicine."

    I hope this will encourage investors to throw lots of money at basic research and give us a better understanding of why cells become cancerous. It makes the New England Journal of Medicine more fun to read. Who knows? Maybe they'll come up with something useful some day. But not today.

  • Cancer in Lab Rats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chicks_Hate_Me (528837) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @08:48PM (#7391883) Journal
    Reovirus is known to cause cancer in lab rats :P

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.

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