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Biotech Science

The Cure for Cancer Might be: HIV 668

Posted by Hemos
from the probably-not dept.
RGautier writes "Wired News has published that Scientists have successfully modified the AIDS-causing HIV in such a way that it can attack metasticized melanoma (cancer cells). The impact of genetic research on cancer research is in and of itself amazing. To mix this with the strategy of using one strong enemy against another is brilliance! Research will continue, obviously, but they are already reporting success on living creatures." Just think: between HIV and carrots we'll be all set.
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The Cure for Cancer Might be: HIV

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  • by beatdown (788583) * on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:26PM (#11668989)
    The bad news is you have cancer. The good news is you have HIV!
    • Re: (Score:5, Funny)

      by EaterOfDog (759681) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:29PM (#11669033)
      And the cure for HIV is Heart Disease!
      • Re: (Score:5, Funny)

        by suso (153703) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:42PM (#11669199) Homepage Journal
        And the cure for Heart Disease is exercise, which means that we're all doomed.
        • Exercise (Score:5, Funny)

          by tepples (727027) <tepples@gmaiBLUEl.com minus berry> on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:48PM (#11669278) Homepage Journal

          And the cure for Heart Disease is exercise, which means that we're all doomed.

          Oh really? Don't geeks have Dance Dance Revolution?

    • by mrighi (855168) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:33PM (#11669089) Homepage
      Totally offtopic, but your joke made me think of another I heard somewhere.

      A guy goes to the doctor about a problem he's having. After a thorough examination, the doctor says to the patient, "I have good news and I have bad news."

      "Well doc, let me hear the good news first.", says the patient.

      To which the doctor responds, "Well, the good news is, we're going to name a disease after you!"
      • by mmkkbb (816035) on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:02PM (#11669442) Homepage Journal
        a guy goes to thailand and messes around with some girls. he comes back to the US and he sees that his dick is turning green. he goes to his doctor, who says "it will have to be amputated". he goes for a second opinion, with the same answer. devastated, he returns to thailand to see if a native physician is mroe familiar with his illness. he goes into an emergency room and sees a doctor who tells him, "your american doctors are wrong! you need no operation." the guy excitedly replies "what do i need to do?" the doctor says, "absolutely nothing! it will fall off by itself!"
    • by adeydas (837049) <adeydas.inbox@com> on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:44PM (#11669228) Homepage Journal
      80% of the virus has been completely removed and it is just now a carrier. Besides it has got a sindbis cloak that affect only insects and birds, so I believe that the person vaccinated wouldn't contract HIV. Ofcourse there are chances of mutations but when the virus is so weak, its like 0.001%.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:21PM (#11669707)
      ...is that the cure for cancer is sexually transmitted!*

      Sure as hell beats chemo!

      *Of coarse I didn't RTFA.
    • Awful joke. (Score:4, Funny)

      by scovetta (632629) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:07PM (#11670294) Homepage
      "Sir, I've got bad news. You've got cancer and Alzheimer's."
      --"Well at least I don't have cancer!"
  • by geoffspear (692508) * on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:26PM (#11668992) Homepage
    If you're gotten rid of 80% of the virus, you might not want to market it as "derived from HIV". Really.
  • I think I'd go with the carrots. I dunno, maybe I'm just weird.
  • by gbitten (306952) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:29PM (#11669025)
    The microscopic version of Alien Vs. Predator
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:29PM (#11669032) Homepage
    "I prescribe disease-riddled hookers. Take one after every meal."
  • Amazing! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:29PM (#11669034)
    I saw this on Google News this morning and wondered why Slashdot hadn't picked up on it already. As soon as I read the headline and the article, I began to wonder... How safe is this to do this research?

    I'm not talking about the safety of recipients once this goes into the real-world (although that can be alarming), but about the research itself.

    I'm pretty far removed from science in any practical setting, but what are the procedures for this kind of research? I've seen too many movies like 28 Days Later to not imagine some accident or oversight to cause some sort of mutant airborne HIV.

    Also, does HIV even infect mice? I know there's a human/ape HIV and a feline HIV but I had not hear of mice HIV. Think of some sewer rat biting you...

    That's just my mid-day alarmist self. Note I'm not against the research, just wondering about it...
    • Re:Amazing! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GoofyBoy (44399)
      >I've seen too many movies like 28 Days Later to not imagine some accident or oversight to cause some sort of mutant airborne HIV.

      28 Days Later had zombies. Is that what you are afraid of? Zombies?

      You want scary? Take a look at the front section of any major newspaper and do some indepth research into its topic. Zombies are an entertaining distraction in comparision.
    • Re:Amazing! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pjt33 (739471)
      A bit of Googling provides multiple respectable sources stating that HIV is categorised as biohazard level 3. CDC has some information on biosafety [cdc.gov] (2.8MB - pretty slow) which includes requirements for handling of agents at different levels.
    • This research, while initially scary, is relatively safe due to the safeguards in place.

      What you need to fear and what the general population doesn't understand is that chickens overseas are the perfect breeding ground for the next epidemic. At least one case exists where two people caught the flu bug from an infected person... who got it from a chicken.

      Can you imagine what wouldve happend had that inital carrier been infected with, say, influenza? A nice, ripe virus that mutates every year and at the d
    • Re:Amazing! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tgibbs (83782) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:51PM (#11670861)
      I'm pretty far removed from science in any practical setting, but what are the procedures for this kind of research? I've seen too many movies like 28 Days Later to not imagine some accident or oversight to cause some sort of mutant airborne HIV.

      HIV is already widely spread in human populations all over the world, mutating rapidly, and under strong selective pressure from antiviral drugs. If it could easily mutate into an airborne strain, it probably would already have done so. The likelihood that modifying it for therapeutic purposes would accidentally turn it into an airborne strain is probably about the same as the risk that kid down the street customizing his car will accidentally turn it into an attack helicopter.
  • by kiwidefunkt (855968) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:29PM (#11669035) Homepage
    So when this hits the market, will HIV be cheaper in Canada than the US?
    • by demachina (71715) on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:39PM (#11669935)
      Joking aside I see this is research is being done at UCLA presumably with public funding or maybe charitable donations.

      I was just wondering if anyone has an educated guess how many medical and drug breakthroughs are happening in publicly funded institutions, the NIH being another example, and how many are actually developed inside the big drug and healthcare companies using private funding.

      I ask because in the face of the extraordinarily high cost of drugs in the U.S., HIV drugs in particular, the usual retort by Republicans is drug companies need those huge profits to do groundbreaking R&D on new breakthrough drugs. Drug companies have the highest profits and profit margins of ANY major industrial sector in the U.S. or at least they did before they started getting hammered when it turned out drugs they were pushing like Zoloft and Vioxx are potentially dangerous.

      I'm also curious how much of the privately funded drug company research is funded by the public through tax breaks, grants etc.

      To put it another way how much do drug companies profit on breakthroughs from publicly funded research.

      Another question what is the current ratio between drug company spending on advertising versus R&D. The never ending saturation TV ads, designed to compel American consumers to demand drugs from their doctors they may or may not need, must be costing billions and all those advertising costs which do no one any actual good are being tacked on to the cost of drugs and making seniors in particular pay through the nose for saturation advertising campaigns instead of drugs or drug R&D.

      My three step plan to drive down the cost of drugs and healthcare:

      A. Outlaw drug advertising just like ads for cigarettes and hard liquor. Its totally inappropriate and disceptive to advertise drugs using slick ads, like soda pop or underarm deodorant. Confine them to advertising to doctors and then only in the form of factual dissertations on the pros and cons of the drug, audited by a 3rd party for accuracy.

      B. Mandate that drugs and publicly funded health breakthroughs be provided to the public at cost or with a regulated profit margin.

      C. Rather than outlawing U.S. agencies, like Medicare, from negotiating fair prices for wholesale drug purchases, make it law that those agencies MUST negotiate fair wholesale prices, like Canada and most other sane nations do.
  • by your_mother_sews_soc (528221) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:30PM (#11669039)
    I knew this girl in college that did amazing things with candles and vegetables, including carrots. I know for a fact she won't die of cancer. She OD'd in '86.
  • Nothing new really (Score:5, Informative)

    by FiReaNGeL (312636) <fireang3l@hotmaiDEGASl.com minus painter> on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:35PM (#11669117) Homepage
    Gene therapy use lentivirus-based (HIV) vectors for quite some time now; it's nothing new really; a marketing team found the 'Cure Cancer with HIV!' twist interesting I guess.

    When pseudotyped with the right envelope, these virus can infect efficiently any type of cell. They can also transduce non-dividing cells, which is usefull. They lack almost every gene of HIV; they retain certain structures which allow packaging of the genome in the virus and the viral promoter, but that's about it. Viruses are packaged in special cell lines containing the viral components on plasmids most of the time, and preparations are tested for recombinants. Its the best technology out there, but its nothing new, really.
  • by Marcus Erroneous (11660) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:35PM (#11669123) Homepage
    "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" seems like a good fit in this instance. Then again, your mileage may vary.
  • by JoeBuck (7947) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:39PM (#11669163) Homepage
    Unlike "normal" viruses, retroviruses actually rewrite the DNA of the cells they infect. Perhaps some day you could be cured of a genetic defect by having a retrovirus rewrite the bad gene in every cell of your body, or at least enough cells to cure the disease.

    On the other hand, HIV mutates very rapidly, so attempts to control the cure, say, by having it die off when there are no more defective genes to rewrite might well fail (as any viruses that mutate in a way to work around the die-off mechanism would reproduce rapidly).

  • Brilliance? (Score:5, Informative)

    by aprilsound (412645) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:40PM (#11669169) Homepage
    To mix this with the strategy of using one strong enemy against another is brilliance!
    As others have said, it sounds potentialy dangerous (mutation et al), but the idea of using something bad to treat something else bad is by no means innovative. A few examples:

    chemotherapy - is just poison. it works because the cancer cells absorb the poison much quicker than normal cells.

    radiation therapy - again, radiation by itself is bad.

    most over the counter acne treatments - are just some form or acid that kills the bacteria on the skin
    As for reengineering a virus to take on something else, while facinating, its hardly a new idea. If you are interested in this sort of thing and haven't read Orson Scott Card's Xenocide [amazon.com] (part of the Ender Series), you might check it out.

  • oh dear (Score:3, Insightful)

    by St. Arbirix (218306) <.matthew.townsend. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:40PM (#11669171) Homepage Journal
    Wired News has published that Scientists have successfully modified the AIDS-causing HIV in such a way that it can attack metasticized melanoma (cancer cells).

    So "scientists" is capitalized now?

    I guess that's fair, but not everyone believes in science so it might upset some people.
  • Mis-titled article (Score:5, Informative)

    by rpdillon (715137) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:41PM (#11669185) Homepage
    I'm not too much in the know about bio-tech, but it seems that this HIV-transport-for-another-virus doesn't actually attack the cancer:

    The researchers programmed the altered virus package to attack a protein on the cancer cell surface called p-glycoprotein, which causes problems in cancer patients by shuttling cancer drugs away from the cell. In other words, p-glycoprotein causes resistance to cancer medication. Scientists could customize the system to target any protein on the surface of a cell, Chen said. He and his colleagues have seen success with about a dozen different molecules, including brain and other blood cells, he said.

    Except for the last sentence, it makes it seem as though this is only a way to pave the way for more conventional treatments. The last sentence doesn't make sense to me, given the context. I can understand how the proteins on the surface of a cell could qualify as "molecules", but then the structure of the sentence makes it seem like they're calling brain and blood cells molecules:

    He and his colleagues have seen success with about a dozen different molecules, including brain and other blood cells, he said.

    I'm still waiting for a virus that attacks the actual cancer cells. I remember hearing something about it a while back, but then it seemed to die off. Anyone been following it?

  • by supersuckers (841107) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:41PM (#11669186) Homepage
    Doctor: Here's the door to your body, see? [bring up some small
    fuzz balls with goofy faces and limbs from under the desk]
    And these are oversized novelty germs. [points to a
    different one up as he names each disease] That's
    influenza, that's bronchitis, [holds up one] and this cute
    little cuddle-bug is pancreatic cancer. Here's what
    happens when they all try to get through the door at once.
    [tries to cram a bunch through the model door. The
    "germs" get stuck]
    [Stooge-like] Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo! Move it,
    chowderhead!
    [normal voice] We call it, "Three Stooges Syndrome."
    Burns: So what you're saying is, I'm indestructible!
    Doctor: Oh, no, no, in fact, even slight breeze could --
    Burns: Indestructible.
  • by wowbagger (69688) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:44PM (#11669225) Homepage Journal
    The summary of the article (and many of the comments) would have you believe this is a potential "cure for cancer".

    Melanoma is a subset of the set of all cancers - specifically, it is a form of skin cancer - more specifically, it is a cancer formed from the skin cells that give skin its pigmentation.

    Melanoma is NOT *all cancers* - thus even if this modified virus will kill 100% of all melanomas and have 0% harmful side-effects this does NOT make it a "cure for cancer" - merely a "cure for a type of cancer".

    The will need to generalize this virus to attack ALL cancerous cells, and NOT to attack any other cells.

    Now, if you can work out how a virus can tell the difference between a cancerous cell and a normal but rapidly reproducing cell, you have a Nobel prize awaiting.
    • by Jane_Dozey (759010) on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:15PM (#11669611)
      Why not engineer different viruses to attack different cancers? This way we could deal with less variables (ie: lots of different cells being attacked while others being left unharmed) and still get good results.

      I would much prefer being treated with a virus if I knew it had one function and did it well, rather than 100 different funtions that it may or may not do well.
  • good news! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Roskolnikov (68772) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:55PM (#11669362)
    Good news, we have a cure for your cancer.

    Bad news, Bruno here is going to administer it.

  • old Russian idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by peter303 (12292) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:57PM (#11669373)
    Not exactly HIV, but some European scientists, particularly in the eastern block have been promoting the use of "phages", or general viruses for all kinds of things like killing bacteria and cancer. This idea was somewhat popular before the distillation of antibiotics in the 1930s, then retreated to the backwaters. Its been reviving as more bacteria develop resistance to all of the antibiotics.
  • by Jozer99 (693146) on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:02PM (#11669443)
    Due out next month is a study that shows amazing results curing AIDS by implanting tumors into HIV positive patiences...
  • by MSBob (307239) on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:11PM (#11669562)
    This is very good news indeed as melanoma is a very difficult cancer to get rid of.

    Unfortunately a fellow geek has a case. Check out his weblog here [yak.net].

    Basically make sure you get all suspicious looking moles checked by your doctor before it's too late. Melanoma is only life threatening when it spreads beyond the initial site.

  • by bshroyer (21524) <bret@bretshr[ ]r.org ['oye' in gap]> on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:20PM (#11669678)
    At least, that's what the initial results of the studies show.

    The human reovirus [oncolyticsbiotech.com] has shown dramatic promise in early oncolytic trials. Some great pictures can be seen here [oncolyticsbiotech.com].

    The virus itself is non-pathogenic, lives in the bowels and lungs, and it's believed that most adult humans have been exposed to it during their lifetimes. Contrast this with HIV...

    I've been watching this technology for a couple of years now it's slow going to get through clinical trials, but there's good evidence that reovirus may be able to treat 2/3 of all cancer out there [oncyedu.info], with little or no adverse side effects. Where it is not 100% effective, and radiation therapy is also prescribed, reovirus has been shown to be a good radiosensitizer.

    Aside from reovirus, we're hearing more and more stories like this [oncolyticvirus.org] every year. I have a strong feeling that we'll have a cure for 90% of all cancer within the decade.

  • by syntap (242090) on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:48PM (#11670034)
    What a headline that would be.
  • by Eric Smith (4379) * <eric.brouhaha@com> on Monday February 14, 2005 @02:58PM (#11670154) Homepage Journal
    Poor old woman, I think she'll die.
  • by voss (52565) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:32PM (#11670596)
    They are taking a form of the HIV virus and wrapping it inside a virus wrapper of a virus that is carried by BIRDS AND INSECTS! Imagine if they made a mistake...you could potentially have a version of the AIDS virus that could be transmitted by insects or worse yet...spreadable by birds...undercooked poultry could have a whole new problem!

  • by Blob Pet (86206) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:44PM (#11670769) Homepage
    Skinner: Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

    Lisa: But isn't that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we're
    overrun by lizards?

    Skinner: No problem. We simply release wave after wave of Chinese
    needle snakes. They'll wipe out the lizards.

    Lisa: But aren't the snakes even worse?

    Skinner: Yes, but we're prepared for that. We've lined up a fabulous
    type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

    Lisa: But then we're stuck with gorillas!

    Skinner: No, that's the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around,
    the gorillas simply freeze to death.

Only great masters of style can succeed in being obtuse. -- Oscar Wilde Most UNIX programmers are great masters of style. -- The Unnamed Usenetter

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