Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Real-life 'I Am Legend?' Researcher Champions Development Of 'Reovirus' As Potential Treatment For Cancer

Date:
May 9, 2008
Source:
Dalhousie University
Summary:
A virologists and cancer biologists was on his way to the American Association of Cancer Research in San Diego recently when he decided to check out the in-flight movie I Am Legend. The premise of the sci-fi horror movie is that a virus successfully used to fight cancer in clinical trials has gone out of control, pushing humankind to the edge of extinction. Early on in the movie, survivor Robert Neville (Will Smith) replays a three-year-old TV interview which foreshadows the impending disaster.

Virologist and cancer biologist Patrick Lee was on his way to the American Association of Cancer Research in San Diego last week when he decided to check out the in-flight movie I Am Legend.

Related Articles


The premise of the sci-fi horror movie is that a virus successfully used to fight cancer in clinical trials has gone out of control, pushing humankind to the edge of extinction. Early on in the movie, survivor Robert Neville (Will Smith) replays a three-year-old TV interview which foreshadows the impending disaster.

“So, Dr. Krippin, give it to me in a nutshell,” says the TV interviewer.

“Well, the premise is quite simple,” responds the scientist. “Um, take something designed by nature and reprogram it to make it work for the body rather than against it.”

In his airplane seat, Dr. Lee’s jaw is dropping. Not a movie-goer, he didn’t catch the movie in theatres when it came out last Christmas, although a colleague at McGill thought he should.

“That’s my research. I can’t believe it, that’s my research,” he says. “I was the first one to use a virus to target cancer cells.”

Dr. Lee has championed the development of the naturally occurring “reovirus” as a potential treatment for cancer. Reovirus, like all viruses, self-propagates and multiplies when it attaches itself to a host cell. With ordinary viruses, they can cause sickness due to infection. Reovirus, though, kills cancerous host cells and leaves healthy cells alone.

In 1998, Dr. Lee revealed that reovirus injected in mice shrank tumours from brain cancer significantly. Not only that, the reovirus would seek out other tumours and eliminate them as well. His discovery of a promising therapy for cancer was a worldwide sensation when announced in the journal Science.

In the decade since his breakthrough, Dr. Lee relocated from the University of Calgary to Dalhousie University, where he’s worked to understand how reovirus replicates in the host cell and seeks out other cancerous cells. In short, says Dr. Lee, “to know what makes the virus such a potent cancer killer.”

He’s recently received word of a $711,000 grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) which will support his laboratory for the next three years; the money is part of more than $4-million in grants from CIHR that are going to Dalhousie University researchers. Ten graduate students and post-doctoral fellows work on two cancer-related projects in Dr. Lee’s laboratory: one is the reovirus project; the other involves the function of p53, a tumour-suppressor protein.

Meanwhile, independent of Dr. Lee’s research, phase-one and phase-two clinical trials are taking place in the United States and in the U.K. to test the safety and effectiveness of reovirus in humans. Results have been promising so far, says Dr. Lee, but large-scale, phase-three clinical trials are still a few years away.

But clearly the movie is still bothering him. He wants to make it clear there’s no worry that the reovirus could run amuck.

“I thought the movie was very entertaining but the scenario it presents is highly unlikely, almost impossible,” he says.

With a pause, he adds: “Scientists don’t like to deal in absolutes, but in this case, I would say absolutely impossible.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dalhousie University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Dalhousie University. "A Real-life 'I Am Legend?' Researcher Champions Development Of 'Reovirus' As Potential Treatment For Cancer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080508185334.htm>.
Dalhousie University. (2008, May 9). A Real-life 'I Am Legend?' Researcher Champions Development Of 'Reovirus' As Potential Treatment For Cancer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080508185334.htm
Dalhousie University. "A Real-life 'I Am Legend?' Researcher Champions Development Of 'Reovirus' As Potential Treatment For Cancer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080508185334.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins