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Hope and fear: Part III

The promise of viral therapies

From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Century-old concept has cured laboratory mice, pushed some end-stage cancer patients into long-term remission and raised hopes for a new generation of cancer therapies ...Read the full article

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  1. Timothy Nessus from Somewhere, Canada writes: 'more promising, if unconventional, approaches to treating cancer patients: deliberately infecting them with viruses'

    YES, because we had SO many successed with this approach...

    OH, THAT'S RIGHT! We don't have ANY!!
  2. Wayne Spitzer from Faywood, United States writes: This is a very interesting article, but it is not at all clear to me why the patients immune system will not quickly develop antibodies to the virus being used for treating the cancer, thereby making the virus treatment ineffective after a few weeks. Also in some ways this method parallels radiation, as it principally attacks cancer cells because most, but not all cancer cells are in a rapid growth phase. While it certainly would be a more pleasant treatment then radiation, it is not obvious why it would be expected to be any more effective.
  3. Karine Private from Canada writes: I would never look at the flu and cold the same way again! Instead of fighting them I might even let them run their course. Looks like they could be doing their job in protecting body from something much more harmful.
  4. Mike Bush from Toronto, Canada writes: Great idea, sounds very simple to try and test, right? Wrong! When I first got into Oncolytics in 2000, the CEO was talking about getting it into production in 3 years, and the stock was trading at $12-18. Now 6 years later, they have barely started Phase 2 trials, which will probably take a year, then come the big Phase 3 trials, which take longer, then the FDA review (and they usually throw up roadblocks and demand more testings). So that now the stock trades under $3 (thankfully I saw what was happening on the way down and got out -- at a loss but it could have been much worse). By the time this drug gets into usage, we are all going to be dead of cancer. Anybody that wants to know why drugs cost so much should invest their savings into an early-stage biotech stock, and watch how long it takes and how fast the company has to spend money, and how the regulators slow things down, and how the medical industry is so slow to do things. It's not just Oncolytics, almost every biotech company has the same problems. Another (Canadian) company has a vaccine for cows against e-coli -- a great invention seeing how e-coli is killing and sickening so many people these days. Yet for almost 2 years, Health Canada and the US regulators have blocked them from getting it to the market. Health Canada won't even tell the company what more they need to do to get their approval! Meanwhile, especially in the case of Oncolytics and cancer, a hundred thousand people a year are dying from cancers that might have been helped by their treatment. But our regulators and medical industry don't care about people dying. Our Health Ministers need to take a hard look at our regulators. There are things they could do to speed things up. And our newspapers never do any investigation about it either. Medicine is too hard work. They regard the regulators as the experts and blindly accept what they say.
  5. zoe chendel from United States writes: Very exciting! Newcastle virus - a type of bird flu has been shown to destroy brain tumours. It invades the tumour and works on the mitochondria of the cells, then they have no way to create energy and they die. Very encouraging news. Thank you for this article.
  6. zoe chendel from United States writes: I just realized also that this is in essence, like fighting fire with fire: For instance, a virus causes Cervical cancer in women - the human papilloma virus. In this article, we are using viruses to destroy cancer. Interesting.
  7. Robert Miller from Ottawa, Canada writes: For anyone interested in more information (and there is a lot more) on this painfully slowly evolving story, there is a discussion group on Yahoo devoted to Oncolytics Biotech and the reovirus. It can be found at:

    Membership is required but it is free and essentially unlimited. The files and links sections give access to a wealth of information and the discussions are civil and often informative.

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