Herpes, not just a bump on your lip, but a cancer fighter!


| 3 Comments

study done by NYU researchers suggests a version of the herpes virus can actually kill cancer cells, yet save normal ones. The interesting thing about this study is not that it actually would work, but the reason it does not work in humans is because our own immune system, that is supposed to be protecting us, actually stops the herpes virus before it is able to kill the cancer cells. The problem is that the immune system has basic responders that tell the body that something is wrong, and the responders are called NK cells. The herpes virus goes to the tumor and feeds on the cells and eats them, once all the cancer cells are gone, the herpes virus does not feed on any normal cells, and the herpes virus simply starves and goes away. The problem is, however, that the body's NK cells attack the herpes cells before they get fully developed, so they never really gets the chance to kill the cancer cells. The study was performed on rats, some rats had their immune systems disabled and actually lived longer than the rats that had their full immune system.

            Clearly there are some problems with this study however. It sounds great that something will just eat the cancer cells and once they are gone the herpes virus just disappears, but there are some huge hurdles to get over first before this is actually effective, and some pretty major questions need to be answered. First of all what if the herpes virus gets too big from feeding on the cancerous cells, then you don't have cancer but your stuck with a strong version of herpes. Also, who will be willing to get go on trial for this treatment if it means you get herpes, then again though herpes are better than cancer. Another problem I had with this study is that it is sort of fighting fire with fire. While it may work your just 'burning' more of your body or maybe damaging another part that we are not aware of. Then there is the glaring problem that kind of shoots this whole solution down in my opinion. We would have to temporarily disable, or weaken or at least blur our immune system, which sounds incredibly dangerous. If our immune system is the thing stopping this herpes virus, but it is also stopping every other disease, it seems like an extremely risky thing to do. This study is definitely in its early stages, but it is quite the advancement in science to find out that a herpes virus can actually effectively rid the body of cancer cells. Much more science needs to be done here, but I think it is worth it to do the science, there is some serious potential.


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Works Cited:  http://scienceblogs.com/erv/2012/11/26/immune-system-shush-the-viruses-are-trying-to-get-some-work-done/

http://www.unisci.com/stories/20013/0716012.htm

3 Comments

That would definitely be cool if there was a way that we could somehow freeze our immune system so that the herpes virus could kill the cancer cells and then starve out. However, if this would happen we would have to probably be in some kind of germ free environment since our immune system would not be able to protect us from all of the invaders that we are normally protected against. You are definitely right by saying that it would be fighting fire with fire. It is very dangerous especially if they would turn off the immune system. It would be like having a immune deficiency virus but hoping for the best. http://ezinearticles.com/?What-If-Your-Immune-System-Stops-Working?&id=925632. Would you consent to them to shut off your immune system for a little to hopefully let the two viruses fight each other?

Would it be possible for the virus cells to develop if you had a way of slowing the individual's bodily functions? You wouldn't technically be disabling it or weakening it, just slowing the response time. Or would it also slow cell reproduction? The idea isn't completely impossible. If you get to that point, it would work if the Herpes virus is able to kill off the cancer cells BEFORE the damage the virus does to your body passes the amount done by the cancer. You could then return their functions to their normal levels.

I think this concept is incredible. It's just the part about shutting the immune system down that would raise some eyebrows. It would be like having HIV, and people would be more susceptible to infections and might die from that instead of the cancer that they have.
And since herpes is something you live with forever, wouldn't some trace of the virus still be able to survive and consume cancer cells?

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