Don’t Assume That the Only Good Virus is a Dead Virus.

We’re all virused out – sick to death of hearing and talking and dealing with the current pandemic.

Which got me thinking – I’ll bet not all viruses are detrimental to human health. So here’s my short layman’s report about a few of…

The Good Viruses

Virotherapy is an expanding field that may enable us use viruses to treat diseases.

More than 9 million people around the world die from cancer every year. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery are successful therapies, but all have significant side effects because they all kill off a significant number of non-cancerous cells during the course of treatment – as well as seeing a fairly high incidence of recurrence after successful treatment. 

Over the years research has shown cancer regression in patients suffering from unrelated viral infections. The search for alternative cancer treatments has led to research on those viruses -  from a number of different families.

Collectively known as oncolytic viruses, they have the potential do things that older treatment modalities can not.

With an existing tropism for tumors (ie: they are attracted to the tumours). They have demonstrated an ability to kill cancer cells selectively. In 2015, the first oncolytic virus therapy based on a herpes virus was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency for the treatment of melanoma lesions in the skin and lymph nodes  It is quite likely that a number of oncolytic virus therapies will soon be approved – significantly increasing the treatment arsenal for a broad range of deadly cancers.

Scientists are also studying the virome, the part of the microbiome concerned with viruses, particularly the gut virome, home of countless bactierophages. Increased use of Phage therapy could eventually supplant the rampant antibiotic use that has put us at risk for the horrors that will potential emerge from our growing state of antibiotic resistance.

Whereas antibiotics kill off millions of “good bacteria”, Phage therapies will be able to target bacteria within a well defined and narrow range.

Information from:

The 2015 Annual Review of Virology -

Medical News Today

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