Thursday, August 15, 2013

Can Polio Help Cancer Research?

By Rob Sutter

I think that there is a lot of intrigue when it comes to cancer research because the possibilities, to say the least, are tremendous. There are many stories which can come about and one in particular has seized my attention for a number of reasons. I never would have thought that the polio virus would have been able to have a part on this matter. After reading about Stephanie Lipscomb and her diagnosis, though, I think it is safe to say that my mindset has shifted.

According to ABC News, Lipscomb was diagnosed during the tail end of her freshman year in college when she felt headaches start to occur and become worse as time went on. Ultimately, she went into the emergency room and learned that she had a glioblastoma tumor - deemed the most common type of growth in the brain - behind her left eye. She had surgery to remove it and while it reappeared two years later, there was a suggestion for another method to help, at least to some degree.

The article in question said that Dr. Annick Desjardins, Lipscomb's neurologist, suggesting enrolling in a clinical trial that would involve the polio virus. Basically, the polio would go into the cancer cells before destroying them from within. Lipscomb was able to benefit from it because her tumor was located on the right frontal lobe, which adheres to social skills. It wouldn't be usable if the tumor in question was located anywhere else because it could have caused damage to language and vision, to name two examples.

While not the most traditional method in this particular field, it's good to see that the results have been tremendous. According to the written piece, after this procedure in the field of cancer research, Lipscomb's tumor decreased from the size of a lime to the size of a pea. She was the first patient to utilize this method and it went to show in how her survival rate became better from the initial five years she was given. This is the kind of story deserving of attention from organizations such as Voices against Brain Cancer.

I believe that there is a tremendous amount to learn about when it comes to cancer research. To me, it's a field in which so much potential has remained untapped and I can only hope that there is more to discover on the matter. The polio virus is well-known and you can probably imagine that very few people would have ever thought it could be harnessed to lessen tumor growth. Any concerns can be cast aside now after Lipscomb's story has become known.

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