HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer killers

HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer killers

Postby Lighthawk » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:18 am

The HIV virus may be about to become a new weapon in the fight against cancer as initial tests have shown it can drastically minimize and even help cure the most common form of leukemia.

A research team, led by Dr. Carl June working out of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has been experimenting with using a harmless version of the HIV virus combined with genetically modified white blood cells as a new way to fight cancer. The cells are taken from patients and modified with new genes that make them target cancer cells, but just as importantly, they can also multiply once injected allowing them to scale up as a small army inside the body.

The results have surprised everyone. These modified cells have acted like serial killers, multiplying and killing all of the cancer cells in two patients, while reducing them by 70% in a third. The equivalent of five pounds of cancer cells has disappeared from each patient. More good news stems from the fact that the modified cells remain in the body and have been seen to reactivate and kill new cancer cells as long as 12 months after they were first injected.

Usually leukemia is treated with medication, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and in some cases bone marrow transplants, all of which can have side effects and complications. This new treatment involves a single injection and the modified white blood cells do the rest of the work. If the same results seen in these first 3 patients are mirrored across a larger group it could signal a huge step forward in the treatment of a disease that currently kills hundreds of thousands of adults and children every year.

The results of the research have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It’s important to note that this small trial involving just three patients was lucky to go ahead at all. The study was rejected by pharamceutical companies and the National Cancer Institute. It was only through a grant awarded by the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy that these patients received the treatment. We suspect the next trial will have more than enough interest, and therefore money, to go ahead.


Source
Image
User avatar
Lighthawk
Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
 
Posts: 4632
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 6:55 pm
Location: Missouri, USA, North America, Earth, Sol System, Orion Arm, Milkyway Galaxy, Local Group, Universe

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby Mikey » Tue Aug 16, 2011 1:37 am

Be careful with such so-called "good news." A three-patient experimental sample - conducted with, apparently, absolutely no control group at all - has all the statistical worth of a big steaming pile.

Further, such "breakthroughs" are often announced based simply on the idea that they might be breakthroughs, without any thought given to practical value. Remember a few months ago, when it was announced that tuberculosis vaccine was found to reverse autoimmune attacks on Langerhans cells, and thus fight autoimmune-derived type-I diabetes? Well, that's great research and all - but it can't help anyone. Pancreatic cells don't regenerate, so you can fight the autoimmune situation all you want but it doesn't help anyone. Research breakthrough; practical value = zilch.

When I see a report that shows statistics about leukemia reduction compared to a control group, rather than statistics relating to unicorns and fairies - and based on an experimental sample of statistical significance, I'll be a bit happier about this.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33132
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby Lighthawk » Tue Aug 16, 2011 2:05 am

Your cynicism is noted, though I didn't call this anything, let alone "good news". Regardless of how things actually turn out, it's an interesting idea, and I find it personally fascinating that we actually have the technology to play god at such a level. Yeah it wasn't a "proper" testing, but the last line rather covers the why of that. It's something to keep an eye on at least.
Image
User avatar
Lighthawk
Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
 
Posts: 4632
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 6:55 pm
Location: Missouri, USA, North America, Earth, Sol System, Orion Arm, Milkyway Galaxy, Local Group, Universe

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby Mikey » Tue Aug 16, 2011 3:42 am

I wasn't commenting on your take on the matter; in fact, I don't think I saw your take. I was commenting on how these things get reported. The headline on the article about the TB vaccine I mentioned actually read something like "Possible cure for type-I diabetes" or some such bullshit, and the article even mentioned possible reversal of the disease in affected patients.

This is an awesome step in research; I just get annoyed by the fact the reports on these things tend to forget that even an awesome step is still just one step.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33132
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby McAvoy » Wed Aug 17, 2011 5:10 am

Seems to be the plot of some zombie movie to me.

Though if I was on my deathbed with cancer I'd probably do it too.

With everything else I wonder about long term effects.
"Don't underestimate the power of technobabble: the Federation can win anything with the sheer force of bullshit"
User avatar
McAvoy
Captain
Captain
 
Posts: 3958
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:39 am
Location: East Windsor, NJ

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby stitch626 » Sat Aug 20, 2011 3:41 am

For some reason.... this seems like a really bad idea.
No trees were killed in transmission of this message. However, some electrons were mildly inconvenienced.
User avatar
stitch626
2 Star Admiral
2 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 9521
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:57 pm
Location: Romulus

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby McAvoy » Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:10 am

That is what I am thinking. To me sounds like a plot to a zombie movie.
"Don't underestimate the power of technobabble: the Federation can win anything with the sheer force of bullshit"
User avatar
McAvoy
Captain
Captain
 
Posts: 3958
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:39 am
Location: East Windsor, NJ

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby Mikey » Sat Aug 20, 2011 2:18 pm

stitch626 wrote:For some reason.... this seems like a really bad idea.


Why? Intentionally exposing people to pathogens - even dangerous ones - is the whole basis of the idea of inoculation. We routinely do it to our children or they're not even allowed in school.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33132
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby Laughing Man » Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:26 pm

Image

Source XKCD
Heck Is Where People Go Who Don't Believe In Golly!
User avatar
Laughing Man
Ensign
Ensign
 
Posts: 116
Joined: Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:37 am

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby stitch626 » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:44 pm

Mikey wrote:
stitch626 wrote:For some reason.... this seems like a really bad idea.


Why? Intentionally exposing people to pathogens - even dangerous ones - is the whole basis of the idea of inoculation. We routinely do it to our children or they're not even allowed in school.

This is completely different from other class of infections. There is no counter to HIV. Once you have it, you have it till you die, and you will likely die from complications of it.

Its like the difference between getting up close in person with a gibbon for scientific observation and doing so with a rabbid lion.
No trees were killed in transmission of this message. However, some electrons were mildly inconvenienced.
User avatar
stitch626
2 Star Admiral
2 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 9521
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:57 pm
Location: Romulus

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby McAvoy » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:56 pm

I am just curious on what happens to this re-engineered HIV virus once it is done? That when it's done will it start to attack the healthy cells as well?
"Don't underestimate the power of technobabble: the Federation can win anything with the sheer force of bullshit"
User avatar
McAvoy
Captain
Captain
 
Posts: 3958
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:39 am
Location: East Windsor, NJ

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby Mikey » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:59 am

stitch626 wrote:
Mikey wrote:
stitch626 wrote:For some reason.... this seems like a really bad idea.


Why? Intentionally exposing people to pathogens - even dangerous ones - is the whole basis of the idea of inoculation. We routinely do it to our children or they're not even allowed in school.

This is completely different from other class of infections. There is no counter to HIV. Once you have it, you have it till you die, and you will likely die from complications of it.

Its like the difference between getting up close in person with a gibbon for scientific observation and doing so with a rabbid lion.


There is no counter to any disease for which there are inoculations. That's why inoculations for those diseases exist. If there was a counter for smallpox, there would be no need for a smallpox inoculation. I'm not saying that shooting people full of HIV is a great idea - I'm saying that the idea of inoculating people with dangerous pathogens is neither novel nor uncommon - and in most cases, we'd raise our eyebrows in surprise if people weren't having it done.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33132
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby stitch626 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:51 pm

Some people have survived smallpox and the disease from that point no longer exists in their body (otherwise, we wouldn't have the inoculation int he first place).

No one has yet to survive HIV (ie being alive and having no active virus in them).
No trees were killed in transmission of this message. However, some electrons were mildly inconvenienced.
User avatar
stitch626
2 Star Admiral
2 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 9521
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:57 pm
Location: Romulus

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby Mikey » Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:24 am

That doesn't mean that there's a counter to smallpox other than inoculation.
"We've been over this. We don't shoot first and ask questions later."
"Of course! We never ask questions."
User avatar
Mikey
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
 
Posts: 33132
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:04 am
Location: down the shore, New Jersey, USA

Re: HIV virus used to turn white blood cells into cancer kil

Postby stitch626 » Tue Aug 23, 2011 1:43 am

Yes it does. If our body can eventually fight it, that in and of itself is a counter. Just a limited one, because not everyone can fight it off.

As of yet, HIV has no counter at all, other than not getting it (not sure if that one counts...).
No trees were killed in transmission of this message. However, some electrons were mildly inconvenienced.
User avatar
stitch626
2 Star Admiral
2 Star Admiral
 
Posts: 9521
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 10:57 pm
Location: Romulus

Next

Return to Science, Philosophy and Theology

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest