Cancer Cure Developed from AIDS Virus? Separating Fact from Fiction

By on January 15, 2013

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in RNnetwork.

If this sounds anything like the whimsical fancy of pulp science fiction reads, you actually might not be far off. However, in a recent medical breakthrough, the use of treating cancer with the AIDS virus is indeed, the truth. With this treatment still in its very infancy, the results appear so unbelievable they border of the realm of ‘miraculous’. And though this may be one of the greatest medical breakthroughs in recent years, scientists and the medical community alike is understandably hesitant to use the word ‘cure’ just yet.

But the internet is abuzz with a hopeful and promising new direction in treating deadly forms of cancer and other illnesses that might normally be fatal. And when the headlines of a young girl beating all odds in her harrowing battle with cancer—and winning, the news propelled this potential life-saving option into the stratosphere.

What has the scientific and medical community singing its praises? It uses the patient’s own immune system to not only fight off cancerous cells to zero-levels, but remains in the body to continuously fight off any chances of the cells returning.

Seven-year-old Emma Whitehead, who was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia at age five, was nearly out of options, and after two courses of grueling chemotherapy had produced unsuccessful results, her parents, running low of hope, came upon an unconventional new treatment option, one that had never been performed on a child.

The treatment is complex at best and involves harvesting the patient’s entire supply of T-cells (white blood cells that are constantly fighting off viruses and tumors) re-engineering them by inserting a non-functional form of the HIV virus (all of the potentially deadly material is removed before the treatment), as one of the unique characteristics of HIV is that it targets T-cells, these modified new genes then attack the B-cells that would normally turn malignant in the case of leukemia. Once the young patient’s body was flooded with her new genetic-altered helper cells they immediately caused a nearly-catastrophic event known as a ‘cytokine storm’ an immunity response that results from the release of naturally occurring chemicals as her new immunity cells begin fighting off infections. This process, though terrifying to witness, is a natural effect of the immunity process. Within moments of the procedure, the young girl’s fever spiked to 105° with her body began swelling in response to this inner battle. Doctors kept their fingers crossed, ever-vigilant in watching how her body reacted. Despite their best efforts and medical interventions young Emma’s condition appeared so grim, her family was brought in to say their final good-byes, when something interesting and unexpected showed up in her blood work.

The young girl’s levels of one of the cytokine’s (interleukin-6) was curiously at an astronomical level, but fortunately for the family on of the attending doctors recognized that a drug (tacilizumab)used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, could potentially lower this level before things became lethal, and in this case, it worked. So well, in fact, that the patient awoke a week later not only in time to celebrate her birthday, but cancer-free.

The young girl is only one of three patients who have not only lived through this process, but has remained in remission (one of the others hasn’t responded with the same levels of success but still managed to achieve remission as well) with zero levels of cancerous cells detected anywhere in their body.

And what of the results? When looking at seven-year-old Emma Whitehead’s beaming smile and full head of hair as she runs around her family’s home, it is hard not to believe in miracles, just a little bit.

Kathryn Norcutt has been an active member of the health care community for over 20 years. During her time as a nurse, she has helped people from all walks of life and ages. Now, Kathryn leads a much less hectic life and devotes most of her free time to writing for RNnetwork, a site specializing in RNnetwork.

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