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research: viruses that target an individual’s cancer

Posted Mar 23 2010 12:00am

Synthetic biology? Could this be the future for curing metastatic breast cancer or other cancers? I came across this article and can’t stop reading about this technology that seems to hold some promise for cancer that has spread. As you may know, breast cancer is curable with early diagnosis. When it metastasizes to other parts of the body, however, it becomes incurable. Our oncologists tell us in gentle ways that while they cannot cure the cancer, they will do their best to keep us alive. Our chances for prolonged survival depend on a multitude of factors too complex to try to predict outcomes. If we’re triple positive, we have more options for use of hormonal and biological treatments along with chemo. If we’re triple negative, we have fewer options for hormonals and biologicals, but the chemo can be more effective. To endure the treatment, we can use complementary and alternative medicine to help build up our healthy selves to counteract the friendly fire of the chemo while it attacks the cancer.

The fascinating part of the research by the Pink Army Cooperative is the blending of genetics and technology to create an individualized virus, based on a patient’s DNA, that will seek and destroy the cancer in that individual without affecting healthy tissue. Personally, I don’t think we will have a cure for advanced cancer unless science can present us with a solution that can do precisely that: kill only the cancer while leaving the healthy tissue alone. Too much of the current therapy is destructive to our healthy organs and tissue. Sometimes other cancers develop as a result of the very treatment we get to kill the original cancer.

Maybe the eventual cure will be tech based rather than medicine based. I just hope the researchers don’t give up. There are a lot of us out here waiting for the good news that our cancer will be defeated. In the meantime, I’ll continue hoping and waiting to hear someone exclaim Eureka.

Would you pay $20 for access to a breast cancer cure, by Ashlee Vance, New York Times, Technology, 3/20/10

Do it yourself genetic engineering, by Jon Mooallem, New York Times Magazine 2/10/10

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© 2004-2010 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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