A virus that kills cancer: the cure that’s waiting in the cold
Sitting in a refrigerator in a Swedish laboratory is what promises to be a cheap and effective cancer treatment. So why are the trials to bring it to market not going ahead?
I’ll tell you why right now.Money talks.If they allow this to see the light of day Big Pharma would lose “massive amounts of money”.They would much rather have people suffer and go through the final stages of cancer while pumping them with expensive chemo which kills the paitent and at the same time empties their bank accounts ,thats why! There are several natural treatments for cancer .Here is just one of many click here .I also highly recommend you watch this documentary. Barracuda
By Alexander Masters
4:00PM BST 31 Aug 2012
On the snow-clotted plains of central Sweden where Wotan and Thor, the clamorous gods of magic and death, once held sway, a young, self-deprecating gene therapist has invented a virus that eliminates the type of cancer that killed Steve Jobs.
‘Not “eliminates”! Not “invented”, no!’ interrupts Professor Magnus Essand, panicked, when I Skype him to ask about this explosive achievement.Continued below.
‘Our results are only in the lab so far, not in humans, and many treatments that work in the lab can turn out to be not so effective in humans. However, adenovirus serotype 5 is a common virus in which we have achieved transcriptional targeting by replacing an endogenous viral promoter sequence by…’
It sounds too kindly of the gods to be true: a virus that eats cancer.
‘I sometimes use the phrase “an assassin who kills all the bad guys”,’ Prof Essand agrees contentedly.
Cheap to produce, the virus is exquisitely precise, with only mild, flu-like side-effects in humans. Photographs in research reports show tumours in test mice melting away.
‘It is amazing,’ Prof Essand gleams in wonder. ‘It’s better than anything else. Tumour cell lines that are resistant to every other drug, it kills them in these animals.’
Yet as things stand, Ad5[CgA-E1A-miR122]PTD – to give it the full gush of its most up-to-date scientific name – is never going to be tested to see if it might also save humans. Since 2010 it has been kept in a bedsit-sized mini freezer in a busy lobby outside Prof Essand’s office, gathering frost. (‘Would you like to see?’ He raises his laptop computer and turns, so its camera picks out a table-top Electrolux next to the lab’s main corridor.)
Two hundred metres away is the Uppsala University Hospital, a European Centre of Excellence in Neuroendocrine Tumours. Patients fly in from all over the world to be seen here, especially from America, where treatment for certain types of cancer lags five years behind Europe. Yet even when these sufferers have nothing else to hope for, have only months left to live, wave platinum credit cards and are prepared to sign papers agreeing to try anything, to hell with the side-effects, the oncologists are not permitted – would find themselves behind bars if they tried – to race down the corridors and snatch the solution out of Prof Essand’s freezer.
I found out about Prof Magnus Essand by stalking him. Two and a half years ago the friend who edits all my work – the biographer and genius transformer of rotten sentences and misdirected ideas, Dido Davies – was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours, the exact type of cancer that Steve Jobs had. Every three weeks she would emerge from the hospital after eight hours of chemotherapy infusion, as pale as ice but nevertheless chortling and optimistic, whereas I (having spent the day battling Dido’s brutal edits to my work, among drip tubes) would stumble back home, crack open whisky and cigarettes, and slump by the computer. Although chemotherapy shrank the tumour, it did not cure it. There had to be something better.
It was on one of those evenings that I came across a blog about a quack in Mexico who had an idea about using sub-molecular particles – nanotechnology. Quacks provide a very useful service to medical tyros such as myself, because they read all the best journals the day they appear and by the end of the week have turned the results into potions and tinctures. It’s like Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black reading the National Enquirer to find out what aliens are up to, because that’s the only paper trashy enough to print the truth. Keep an eye on what the quacks are saying, and you have an idea of what might be promising at the Wild West frontier of medicine. This particular quack was in prison awaiting trial for the manslaughter (by quackery) of one of his patients, but his nanotechnology website led, via a chain of links, to a YouTube lecture about an astounding new therapy for neuroendocrine cancer based on pig microbes, which is currently being put through a variety of clinical trials in America.
I stopped the video and took a snapshot of the poster behind the lecturer’s podium listing useful research company addresses; on the website of one of these organisations was a reference to a scholarly article that, when I checked through the footnotes, led, via a doctoral thesis, to a Skype address – which I dialled.
‘Hey! Hey!’ Prof Magnus Essand answered.
To geneticists, the science makes perfect sense. It is a fact of human biology that healthy cells are programmed to die when they become infected by a virus, because this prevents the virus spreading to other parts of the body. But a cancerous cell is immortal; through its mutations it has somehow managed to turn off the bits of its genetic programme that enforce cell suicide. This means that, if a suitable virus infects a cancer cell, it could continue to replicate inside it uncontrollably, and causes the cell to ‘lyse’ – or, in non-technical language, tear apart. The progeny viruses then spread to cancer cells nearby and repeat the process. A virus becomes, in effect, a cancer of cancer. In Prof Essand’s laboratory studies his virus surges through the bloodstreams of test animals, rupturing cancerous cells with Viking rapacity.
The Uppsala virus isn’t unique. Since the 1880s, doctors have known that viral infections can cause dramatic reductions in tumours. In 1890 an Italian clinician discovered that prostitutes with cervical cancer went into remission when they were vaccinated against rabies, and for several years he wandered the Tuscan countryside injecting women with dog saliva. In another, 20th-century, case, a 14-year-old boy with lymphatic leukaemia caught chickenpox: within a few days his grotesquely enlarged liver and spleen had returned to ordinary size; his explosive white blood cell count had shrunk nearly 50-fold, back to normal.
But it wasn’t until the 1990s, and the boom in understanding of genetics, that scientists finally learnt how to harness and enhance this effect. Two decades later, the first results are starting to be discussed in cancer journals.
So why is Magnus – did he mind if I called him ‘Magnus’? – about to stop his work?
A reticent, gently doleful-looking man, he has a Swedish chirrup that makes him sound jolly whatever his actual mood. On the web, the first links to him proclaim the Essand Band, his rock group. ‘Money,’ he said. ‘Lack of.’
‘Lack of how much money? Give me a figure,’ I pressed. ‘What sort of price are we talking about to get this virus out of your freezer and give these people a chance of life?’
Magnus has light brown hair that, like his voice, refuses to cooperate. No matter how much he ruffles it, it looks politely combed. He wriggled his fingers through it now, raised his eyes and squinted in calculation, then looked back into his laptop camera. ‘About a million pounds?’
More people have full-blown neuroendocrine tumours (known as NETs or carcinoids) than stomach, pancreas, oesophagus or liver cancer. And the incidence is growing: there has been a five-fold increase in the number of people diagnosed in the last 30 years.
In medical school, students are taught ‘when you hear hoof beats, think horses not zebras’ – don’t diagnose a rare disease when there’s a more prob-able explanation. It leads to frequent misdiagnoses: until the death of Steve Jobs, NETs were considered the zebras of cancer, and dismissed as irritable bowel syndrome, flu or the patient getting in a tizz. But doctors are now realising that NETs are much more prevalent than previously thought. In a recent set of post-mortem investigations, scientists cut open more than 30,000 bodies, and ran their hands down the intestines of the dead as if they were squeezing out sausage skins. One in every 100 of them had the distinctive gritty bumps of NETs. That’s two people in every rush-hour tube carriage on your way home from work, or scaled up, 700,000 people in Britain, or roughly twice the population of the city of Manchester. The majority of these tumours are benign; but a small percentage of them, for reasons that no one understands, burst into malignancy.
Many other cancers, if they spread, acquire certain features of neuroendocrine tumours. The first person to own a successful anti-neuroendocrine cancer drug – it doesn’t even have to cure the disease, just slow its progress as anti-retrovirals have done with Aids – will be not only healthy but also Steve Jobs-rich. Last year the pharmaceuticals giant Amgen bought a cancer-assassinating version of the herpes virus for $1 billion. That Magnus’s virus could be held up by a minuscule £1 million dumbfounded me.
‘That’s a banker’s bonus,’ I said. ‘Less than a rock star’s gold toilet seat. It’s the best bargain going. If I found someone to give you this money, would you start the clinical trials?’
‘Of course,’ replied Magnus. ‘Shall I ask the Swedish Cancer Board how soon we can begin?’
I do not have a million pounds. But for £68 I flew to Uppsala. I wanted to pester Prof Essand about his work, face to face, and see this virus, face to petri dish. I wanted to slip some into my mittens, smuggle it back to England in an ice pack and jab it into Dido. MORE HERE
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