Cancer

Reporter: David Richardson

"First thing that comes into your mind , this is not happening, and then you've got to start convincing yourself what do we do here now." Ric Carter remembers all too vividly the day he was diagnosed with cancer..."I'm gone. everything. all your aspirations, everything you've built up and got to that point in life looks like somebody has just cut them off."

Ric has a rare tumour on his tonsils his only treatment chemo-therapy and rounds of radio-therapy and the side effects can be horrendous..."I would not wish it on my worst enemy david. Honestly I would not."

"what if your treatment was as simply as getting the cold or the flu? Ric says it'd"be fantastic. it'd be a godsend...if it meant something was going to give us hope, something new, we could think, they, this could fix us. this could cure us."

Sound like science fiction? Think again.It's called Viro-therapy..."using viruses whether naturally occuring or genetically altered to target cancer cells, inducing cell death while leaving healthy cells alone." Virologist professor Darren Schafren and his team from Newcastle University are leading an Australian first...They're using a form of the common cold to attack various forms of cancer...

and the results are astonishing..."melanoma, head and neck cancers, prostate and breast cancer. not in all of them. BUT in a large percentage of them."

Are we talking a cure? Professor Darren says "it's not a cure. it will be very difficult to cure cancer. what we're looking at in viro-therapy is to try and better current treatments, maybe prolong life and maybe give a better quality of life." From rascal to remedy...this is how this microscopic silver bullet works the virus is seen here as the tiny blue balls like cancer seeking missles...the virus attacks the cancer cells...the large blue/green ones here...killing them...while leaving the healthy pink cells alone.

Darren says "the idea is to match the right virus with the right type of cancer. there is the herpes virus in trial at the moment, adno-virus, the common cold virus, there's also the vetinery virus such as Newcastle disease. chicken flu? yes, the chicken flu being used."

How quickly does it work?

"normally we can see something in a couple of weeks. 3-to-5 weeks, we can see signs of tumour regression in immune deficient mouse models."

So far the australian experiments have focused in petrie dishes and mice. But this is what Darren is seeing. On the left the mice have been given a placebo...just saline...the tumours are large...and growing...but on the right...the mice have been given a "bug"..and three are on the mend.

"it's got the potential to be non-toxic, non-invasive, huge quality of life improvements...but the potential is enormous."Brian Dulhunty is managing director of Viralytics...the company financing this research. "Viruses have been the curse of manking for as long as man has evolved. we have a very benign virus. if it's proven to have the ability to destroy cancer, immense imprevement in the quality of life, it's a fantastic industry to be involved in."

"This research may also solve on of man;'s greatest mysteries. throughout history there have been stories of people riddled with cancer, seemingly cured overnight. people have called them miracles, they say they've been touched by the Hand of God. what if it wasn't God's hand but God's tiniest warriors, his smallest creations. germs, bacteria or viruses." Darren says "I think that is at the heart of the technology. there's losts of anecdotal evidence out there that people have gone into spontaneous remission with a number of different cancer types that coincided with some kind of opportunistic infection."

It will still be five years or more before this research becomes a recognised treatment, Schafren and his team are beginning phase one human trials right now. Brian says "with the current trials, the safety trials, the aim of the trial is to prove we can put virus into people and it does the people no harm, does the patients no harm." Then it's a matter of matching the right virus with the right cancer...where a runny nose...runny eyes...and a sore throat mean you're winning the fight with a killer.

Will we ever beat cancer? Darren says "I think it's going to be difficult but I think we can at least try to give it our best shot in improving the quality of life and the time people have following initial diagnosis." for ric carter...and his fellow cancer patients at Jean Colvin hospital...it's just what they need...hope... Ric says "if the cures we have now, the treatments we have now can prolong our life til something is discovered and found. that's hope. that what it's all about."

For more information

JEAN COLVIN HOSPITAL FOR CANCER PATIENTS (SYDNEY)

www.cancerpatients.com.au

Cancer Treatment Centres

Jean Colvin Private Hospital

(Private hospital)

9 Loftus Road

Darling Point NSW 2027

Phone: 02 9362 3429

Facsimile: 02 9362 5088

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Viralytics Ltd

Bryan Dulhunty, managing Director

www.viralytics.com