New Breakthroughs Fight Cancer and Viral Infections

August 16, 2011

Last week brought news for two (potentially huge) medical trials.

Fighting Viral Infections

Researchers at MIT are working to produce a broad spectrum anti-viral. Designed to target human cells that have been infected with a virus, it leaves healthy cells alone.

Initial results come from cell extractions tested in vitro, and scientists are now moving on to testing a variety of viruses in rats. Of course, while it leaves healthy cells alone, there are still likely to be side effects. First, as the body fights an infection, there can be a period where pathogen waste causes some negative side effects as they are flushed from the body, but this is true of any pathogen fighting medicine.

Second, I would speculate about what would happen in a severe infection (AIDS, for instance). If most cells are infected, what is left of the person being treated once the antiviral has moved through the body? There are questions that still have to be sorted out in clinical trials.

Fighting Leukemia

Normally fought with chemotherapy, radiation, and bone marrow transplants, leukemia requires ongoing medication, monitoring, and treatment.

Without support from Big Pharma, scientists from University of Pennsylvania (funded mostly by charity) have discovered a VERY promising way to fight cancer, and it’s already had one (small!) clinical trial!

Using a safe form of HIV, researchers took the patients immune cells and modified them to attack cancer cells. The results astounded the scientists, who had organized a trial of three patients due to the high risks involved with any new medication. Two of the three patients went into remission, while the third saw 70% of cancer cells disappear.

What’s more, this is with one injection of the modified immune system cells: the body was able to support and reproduce the super cancer fighting cells for about a year!

If you like seeing these sort of medical breakthroughs, be sure to find a charity that supports medical research and support it.

What do you think of these new medicines? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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