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When Sci-Fi Meets Reality: Scientists Create Virus to Fight Cancer

Saturday, June 14, 2008 by: Joanne Waldron
Tags: viruses, health news, Natural News

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Delicious
(NaturalNews) Mike Adams recently did a review of the science fiction movie I Am Legend. In the movie, set in the not-too-distant future, scientists spawn a virus intended to be injected into humans for the purpose of destroying cancer cells. While the virus is completely successful at curing cancer in the clinical trials, it quickly mutates and causes the subjects to turn into savage, violent creatures that avoid the sunlight and come out only at night. It is in the darkness of night where the hairless, zombie-like predators with fangs and superhuman strength leap about and attack their victims, causing the virus to spread like rabies.

Actually, the film is an adaptation of a sci-fi novel that was written in 1954 by Richard Matheson. In the original story, however, the creatures were more like vampires. Other movie adaptations include The Last Man on Earth, starring Vincent Price, in 1964 and The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston, in 1971.

Of course, the scenario depicted in I Am Legend could never really happen, right? Actually, as reported in a Dalhousie University news article by Marilyn Smulders, Dr. Patrick Lee, a virologist and professor with Dalhousie Medical School's Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was on a recent airline flight to the American Association of Cancer Research in San Diego when he decided to view the in-flight movie I Am Legend. "That's my research. I can't believe it, that's my research," exclaims Dr. Lee. "I was the first one to use a virus to target cancer cells."

Dr. Lee's work involves using a naturally-occurring virus known as "reovirus" to treat cancer. Usually, viruses make people sick. However, reovirus appears to kill cancerous cells and leave healthy cells alone.

Dr. Lee tested the virus on mice in 1998 with some very promising results. In addition to causing brain tumor cancer cells in mice to shrink, reovirus appeared to seek out other tumors and eliminate them. Meanwhile, right now in the United States and the U.K., independent of Dr. Lee's research, there are already clinical trials underway to test reovirus on humans.

Now, one may be gratified to learn (according to Smulders' article) that Dr. Lee doesn't think that the scenario depicted in the movie could ever happen in real life. "I thought the movie was very entertaining but the scenario it presents is highly unlikely, almost impossible," says Lee. After a moment of reflection he adds, "Scientists don't like to deal in absolutes, but in this case, I would say absolutely impossible." Everyone will surely sleep better knowing this. Yeah, right.

About the author

Joanne Waldron is a computer scientist with a passion for writing and sharing health-related news and information with others. She hosts the Naked Wellness: The Gentle Health Revolution forum, which is devoted to achieving radiant health, well-being, and longevity.

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