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Medicine Science

A Virus that Attacks Brain Cancer 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."
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A Virus that Attacks Brain Cancer

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  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:13PM (#22627242)
    The premise of several of the zombie movies is a brain virus that gets out of control. "I am Legnd", "28 days"
    • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:18PM (#22627312) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You recall wrong. It was being developed as a cure for violent, psychopathic behavior. It, uh.... it didn't work.
        • by mapsjanhere ( 1130359 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:29PM (#22627456)
          That why I prefer G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate for all my pacification needs. Better living with chemistry!
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Cutting yourself and eating people's skin? Where does that get fun?
          • 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?
            • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:49PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Metasquares ( 555685 )
                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.
                • Absolutely.

                  I didn't work for cancer treatment but for XRay imagery used in cardiac and vascular surgery. They perfectly knew (and so did our FDA contacts) how much radiation the patients will receive and that it will harm or kill a minor percentage of them (there are studies that show a proportional link between small dose radiation exposure and the statistical increase in cancer risk), but for each victim of the exposure, there were hundreds more people surviving the surgery than with open chest version (a
              • by Raptoer ( 984438 )
                Well that .1% became hyper violent and started eating people, and the other 99.9% became so apathetic that they just died.
      • by iamacat ( 583406 )
        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: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by KublaiKhan ( 522918 )
          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.
          • by iamacat ( 583406 )
            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...?

      • That's why you have to Aim For The Head!

        "First you kill the brain, then you kill the Ghhooulll." []

        -Creature Feature

    • 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?
      • I, for one, am going to wait for micro-machine therapy.
      • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:23PM (#22627390) Homepage Journal
        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: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          rather than waiting for the full 'why' before doing something.
          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
    • 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
      • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:45PM (#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!

    • by Spekdah ( 804218 )
      In the latest re-make wasn't is measles virus used to cure cancer?
    • You must have meant 28 Days Later [], not 28 Days [].
    • 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.
    • 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. :) []
    • I put my faith in nanotechnology for cures to diseases of any sort, far more than in anti-disease viruses (note to potential nitpickers: cancer is listed as a disease).

      Viruses mutate and become things you do not expect them to. Known fact. To proceed with a cancer-killing virus is to drive all of humanity over one long IED-infested road of epidemiological Russian Roulette.

      Of course, nano-robots can bring about the gray goo scenario, but that's more easily controlled than, say, a runaway virus. Nano-robots c
  • ...a William Smith who attacks the virus!!!

    (I just had to).

  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:13PM (#22627250) Journal
    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.
  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:18PM (#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 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.
    • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cmorriss ( 471077 )
      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
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RallyNick ( 577728 )
      So you think 5% chance of getting rabbies and dying is worse than 50% chance of dying from brain cancer?
    • by backslashdot ( 95548 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:47PM (#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.
    • 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.
      • 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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by getling ( 114602 )
        I agree completely - my father had the same and we were lucky that it in fact WAS the treatment that killed him after three years living with it. Yes that's right, he lasted three years - for those that know about glioblastoma that is an eternity. They pumped him full of steroids, gamma knife, radiation and oral chemo (newer drug, I forget the name) and eventually the body just shut down largely due to the steroids.

        So yes, this is great news.

        However, haven't we heard this before working on the same tumor, o
        • I'd rather they worked with Rabies...We know the flu is a killer.

          And yea, 3 years, Jesus. My mother lasted 3 weeks; when they removed the tumor (which was horrifying big...I talked to the Doc before the operation, and he showed me the MRI, and you get that progression of slices of the brain, and it was like, "Ugh...UGH...damn...Damn...DAMN!" It was literally the size of my fist, and it spread out everywhere.) the brain didn't redistribute the fluid correctly, and then she had a pretty serious stroke...

          We co
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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 i
    • by DrBuzzo ( 913503 )
      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.
    • by vimh42 ( 981236 )
      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.
      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
        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 []

        "Surviving" isn't necessarily a good thing either. I'd certainly give it a shot, even given a 5% chance of

        • by znerk ( 1162519 )
          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
    • 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).

      [] []

      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 throu
    • 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.
    • 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.
      • You are of course assuming that the leaders of these nations have any brains to infect to begin with. Or maybe someone has already let it loose in US.
        • I believe ... this virus ... is a good .. thing. Everybody should .. have it. It is good. I repeat ... good. Everybody should have it. Everybody. Everybody. Everybody.
    • by up2ng ( 110551 )
      Sounds like the "Krippen Virus" in I Am Legend. 100 % effective
  • 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!"

    • 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 therap
      • 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.
  • "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? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cedric Tsui ( 890887 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:28PM (#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.
    • by mapsjanhere ( 1130359 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @04:32PM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by eln ( 21727 )
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )
      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 d
  • by _14k4 ( 5085 )
    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.
  • ...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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by robertjw ( 728654 )
      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.
    • 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.

    • by rev_sanchez ( 691443 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:11PM (#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: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bcwright ( 871193 )

      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 m

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

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

      • 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. Alk
  • 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... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Monday March 03, 2008 @05:03PM (#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 [] and Reovirus to target cancer []

    "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.
    • []

      Looks promising...
    • '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?
      • '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 man

  • 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-
    • 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 k
      • 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. T
  • Operator: Somebody set up us the virus!
  • by Mmm_pickles ( 624458 ) <> on Monday March 03, 2008 @06:08PM (#22628592) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Possibly the best idea since Thalidomide.
  • The virus is hungry. It needs "brrrraaaiiiinnnnnzzzz".

    Anyone here ever played "Stubbs the Zombie". That was one funny game.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • I remember a number of years ago when I lived in New Mexico there was an outbreak of Vesicular stomatitis in cattle and horses. A friends horse ranch was quarantined for a while due to several their horses becoming infected. []
  • "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!

  • 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 medic

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.