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Aug. 31, 2o12 – For this, my first entry of “Ripped from the Headlines,” a new section where I plan to drop in interesting, funny, noteworthy or just curious stories I’d read in the news, I was about to drop in an article that appeared in the UK-based Telegraph, regarding a possible breakthrough in creating sperm from a man’s skin cells — interesting in its own right — but inside that article was buried a link to another article, even more fascinating.
The second article by Alexander Masters, titled “A Virus That Kills Cancer: The Cure That’s Waiting in the Cold“ reports that, “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?”
The article quotes Professor Magnus Essand who says that neuroendocrine tumors which are resistant to all other drugs — and which, by the way, killed Steve Jobs — were “melting away” in the laboratory mice treated with his adenovirus therapy. But for lack of funding to continue the study, further research is on hold.
Of course this situation is not unique. Many diseases go untreated for lack of funding. And, more often than not, promising cures that worked fabulously in lab animals, and which took years of work and millions of dollars to develop, fail when tested in humans. Whether the clinical trial outcome of Dr. Essand’s study will be any different, if it ever gets back off the ground, is hard to say.
But, the article was fascinating on many levels, easily understood even if you’re not a scientist, and worth the read.
And, in case you happen to have some spare cash, donations for funding are welcome.
To read the full Telegraph article, click here.
Update posted Dec. 21, 2016. It’s been over 4 years since I heard about Professor Essand’s work and I was curious what, if any, progress had been made. Great news to report! As a result of the widespread publicity generated by The Telegraph article, an Oncolytic Virus Fund was established, which received enough donations that the drug finally made it out of Dr. Essand’s freezer and into human patients in July 2016. According to this blog entry, both patients are doing well, though much more testing, as well as ongoing clinical trial funding, are needed. To learn more about how you can support this groundbreaking work, see: https://www.uu.se/en/support/oncolytic/.
July 2014 Update – I was curious to see if any progress had been made since posting this, two years ago. Good news! Thanks to Alexander Masters’ original story, and his suggestion that Professor Essand start a fund-raising effort, enough funding was raised to fund Phase 1/IIa clinical trials. Baylor College of Medicine (Houston TX) is producing the clinical grade virus (as of Feb. 2014), and the hope is to begin trials later this year. You can read more about their progress (and donate to their fund) at http://www.uu.se/en/support/oncolytic.