Repost: No, doctors did not “inject HIV into a dying girl” to treat her cancer

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[label type=”info”]This article is a REPOST from another blog.[/label]

[box title=”Editor’s Note from June:” style=”soft” box_color=”#000000″ radius=”0″]As cancer surrounds us, and even hits home, videos like the one below interest me.  You can find several like it on YouTube by searching: HIV cancer.  The one below is titled:  “Amazing Story: 6 Year Old Dying Cancer Patient Injected With HIV Virus?” Turns out that’s not quite true. Read the article below the video the real scoop.  But the real scoop is still pretty amazing.  I have several family members who recently conquered cancer, and one now with stage 4 stomach cancer.  I only wonder two things: (1) how come we aren’t hearing more about it in the media, especially online, if it’s legit. (2) Could it be possible she was miraculously healed? Maybe a relative had her whole church interceding for the little girl & God intervened ? So it was a miracle? Just random wonderments. I tend to do that (smile.)[/box]

The Real Scoop

We’ve recently noticed an inspiring short film circulating on the internet about how doctors in the US have apparently cured a child of leukaemia by “injecting her with HIV”.

But while the actual science behind this story is fascinating, the treatment is still at an extremely experimental stage and has only been tested in a handful of patients.

And while we’re always keen to welcome exciting experimental cancer treatments, we also want to clear up a few misconceptions about what the research actually involved.

To be absolutely clear, the doctors in the video did NOT inject HIV – nor a “deadly disease” – into a child.

So who are these people, and what did they actually do?

Turning the immune system on cancer

The research comes from Professor Carl H. June and his team in Philadelphia in the US. He’s a highly-respected scientist working on cancer, HIV and the immune system, and has published his work in hundreds of papers in many leading scientific journals over several decades.

The immune system is an incredibly hot topic in cancer research. Cancer is an illness that starts from our own cells going rogue within us. Our immune system is pretty good at recognising and attacking foreign invaders – such as bacteria or viruses – but it doesn’t do so well at tackling tumours.

A huge amount of research effort around the world is focused on trying to understand why the immune system doesn’t recognise and fight off the disease. And there’s also a lot of work aimed at harnessing this powerful force for treating cancer, and this is leading to new ways to treat the disease.

Professor June and his team are taking an interesting approach to this challenge. In particular, they’re developing new ways to turn the power of the immune system on leukaemia – a cancer caused by white blood cells (usually B cells, also part of the immune system themselves) growing out of control.

They’ve developed a technique in which they collect special ‘killer’ immune cells, called T cells, from a cancer patient. These are then ‘reprogrammed’ in the lab using a modified virus, which is very good at smuggling genes into the T cells.

In this case, the researchers added genes carrying instructions that tell the T cells to make a new protein called a “chimeric antigen receptor” – this lets them lock on to molecules found on the surface of cancer cells, killing them in the process.

These reprogrammed T cells are then injected back into the patient, where they grow and multiply, creating an army of killer cells to fight the disease.

At least, that’s the theory.

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