When you hear the word “herpes”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? You think of STDs right? Did you know that there is a genetically modified version of herpes that is showing signs of being able to limit the spread of cancer cells in breast and ovarian cancer?
Studies done on lab mice have shown that when injected, the modified herpes simplex virus (HSV) has prevented cancer cells in the ovaries from spreading into the abdomen, and has helped to prevent the cells from spreading from the breast to the brain. This is a huge step in the fight to stop cancer in its tracks.
When genetically modified, the HSV will attack tumors that carry the Her-2 gene which causes the tumor to rapidly spread. The studies have shown that this is effective a good amount of the time, however it does not stop the spread of the cancer cells to the lungs from the breast tissue.
The viruses are now in clinical trials in the hopes that some kind of treatment or cure for cancer will come out of it. Think of the progress if cancer could be caught where it starts and taken out before it becomes a problem. Think of how many lives could be saved, how many families spared from the emotional pain and financial disaster of cancer.
The studies have also shown that the modified herpes virus will not spread to or infect healthy cells with the actual herpes virus. This could mean big things for the medical community. Not only could breast and ovarian cancer death rates be lowered, but this could spawn more research for other cancers as well, such as lung, kidney, and pancreatic cancer.
Sometime in the near future, you may no longer view the word herpes as a dirty disease that is spread through unprotected s*e*x. You may also see it as a life saver.