There’s a Batman comic I somewhat remember from my youth in which Batman tricks one of his enemies into thinking that one of his other enemies is plotting against him and so manages to eliminate both problems at the same time.That was essentially the first thing I thought of when I read this article about what could be the new frontier of fighting cancer — using viruses to combat the cancerous tumors.

A common virus, omnipresent in the world. When it infects humans, it does no harm. But introduce it into certain kinds of tumors and the virus appears to go wild, liquefying every cancer cell it comes into contact with. It’s the type of discovery that could change the world.

The virus, as it were, makes the cancerous cell turn on itself and cease spreading — and quickly and quietly dies.

Each time, they had the same results: Infect the cancer cells, wait a week and the cells die. By replicating the experiment, the laboratory was able to gain some understanding of the mechanics of what was happening.

“What the virus seems to be doing is turning on [a gene in] all these cancer cells that causes them to die, to turn on themselves and commit suicide,” Meyers said.

Even more encouraging, when his lab infected mice that had human breast cancer tumors with AAV2 earlier this year, they found the tumors had liquefied — a reassuring result because that isn’t always true.

We live in a world in which exciting new discoveries are made just about every day. I believe much of this is due in part to the so-called flattening of the world and how easy it now is to get information from one part of the world to the other. It is considerably more easy for researchers and scientists to collaborate — one could be in New York and the other could be in Tokyo — than ever.

With the tremendous efforts the Hershey Medical Center researchers are making, it could be just a matter of time before people no longer tremble in fear from a cancer diagnosis and just go in to get it treated like they would a flu nowadays.

2 Comments

  1. Well done, Gordon! This brings a whole new meaning to “fighting fire with fire!” If we can eradicate cancer from our lives, it will be a bigger scientific discovery than beating Small Pox and the invention of penicillin.

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