Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Cold virus hits cancer cells for six

The potential of coxsackie viruses in this application has been known at least since 2004 so it is good to see clinical trials now getting underway

AUSTRALIAN researchers have found that a common cold virus can kill cancer cells in a test tube and in mice. Now the treatment will be tested on humans. The coxsackie virus, which can cause colds in healthy people, has shown it can infect and fight certain cancer cells, in particular melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

The clinical trials will be funded by publicly listed anti-cancer biotechnology company, Viralytics. Company board member and University of Newcastle Associate Professor Darren Shafren said the virus attacked particular cancer cells but largely left normal cells alone. "One of the nice things about these viruses is they're quite aggressive. They can actually kill cancer cells in a test tube within six to 12 hours of coming into contact with the virus," he said. "[The cancer cell] is a bit like a balloon. It swells up until there's so much virus inside it, it just bursts and then the virus that bursts out is free to start again in an adjacent type of cancer cell. It totally destroys the cancer cell."

Viralytics has completed one human clinical trial which involved injecting three late-stage melanoma patients, who had failed or refused conventional treatments, with a small dose of the virus. Associate Professor Shafren said the trial was mainly to test the safety of the virus, not to monitor whether it reduced the cancer. "We don't want to get people's hopes up but basically we found that these three patients tolerated the treatment quite well," he said. "We didn't get any serious adverse affects from the singular injection which we saw as quite a conservative dose."

In the next two trials due to start soon in separate major Australian teaching hospitals, the dosage will be upped. In one trial, nine late-stage melanoma patients will have the virus injected into the tumour. The second trial will have 26 patients with cancers including melanoma, breast cancer and prostate cancer, having the virus delivered intravenously.

Associate Professor Shafren said the key to the treatment would be finding the right delivery method. Patients will be monitored for a significant period of time to see if the virus reduces the spread of the cancer. "We're still looking for some signs of proof that we're actually killing cancer cells," Associate Professor Shafren said. "What we're hoping with this therapy is that you can actually kill cancer cells outside of the site of injection." Associate Professor Shafren said while the treatment had worked successfully in mice "a lot of things that work in mice don't translate into any clinical benefit for humans". However, he said the concept of treating cancer with viruses was gaining momentum as a potential combination with therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation.


WiFi scare: Just another bureaucrat defending his patch and the media looking for scares

No evidence of safety will ever suffice for some in this area but we have of course noted the huge upsurge of brain cancer since a billion people got cellphones [/satire]

Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, has called for a review of the health risks of wireless technology after an investigation into its effects on children. The BBC’s investigative programme Panorama claims that wi-fi networks in schools can give off three times as much signal radiation as phone masts. Current government advice says that phone masts should not be sited near schools without consulting parents and teachers, because children are thought to be more vulnerable to radio-frequency radiation.

The programme-makers measured radiation levels from a wi-fi-enabled laptop in a classroom in Norwich. It found that the signal strength was three times higher than that of a typical phone mast. Wi-fi, or wireless fidelity, allows a computer user to connect to the internet at broadband speeds without cables. More than two thirds of secondary schools and nearly half of primary schools have wi-fi. Panoramaspoke to nearly 50 schools and only one had been alerted to possible health risks. Others had been told that there was no risk.The Government says that wi-fi poses no health risks, citing advice from the World Health Organisation.

In 2000 Sir William produced a report on the impact of mobile phone masts on health. He found that: “There may be changes, for example in cognitive function . . . There were some indications that there may be cancer inductions . . . There was some molecular biology changes within the cell. . . ”

The levels of radiation found in the Norwich classroom were 600 times lower than the levels deemed dangerous by the Government. It uses data from the International Commission on NonIonizing Radiation Protection, which bases exposure limits on a thermal effect. In other words, the radiation has to be strong enough to cause a heat effect before it is restricted. Dr Olle Johansson, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, has carried out experiments on radiation similar to or lower than wi-fi and found biological implications. Asked if the commission was right to set limits based on thermal effect, he said: “That’s just rubbish. You cannot put emphasis on such guidelines.”



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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