By Stan Schroeder
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have completed a groundbreaking new test: They knocked widespread blood cancer into remission with a single massive blast of measles vaccine.
Stacy Erholtz, who was suffering from an advanced stage of blood cancer, recovered thanks to an intravenous injection of the measles virus, which was sufficient to overwhelm the cancer’s natural defenses, the StarTribune reports
As far as clinical trials go, this was a small test because it only had two subjects. But lead researcher Dr. Stephen Russell told StarTribune it’s a promising start.
“It’s a landmark. We’ve known for a long time that we can give a virus intravenously and destroy metastatic cancer in mice. Nobody’s shown that you can do that in people before,” he said.
The viruses bind to cancer cells and use them to replicate. The process destroys the cells, and the body’s immune system attacks what’s left since it’s marked as viral material. This test also gave doctors a benchmark for the virus dose needed to reduce cancer in patients — 100 billion infectious units instead of the standard 10,000 units.
There are still hurdles to overcome — like the body’s own defenses. Once the immune system has experience fighting a virus, it’s not effective a second time. The body attacks it before it can begin taking over cancer cells.
Doctors will also need to do more testing on more patients. They plan to expand their trials by September.
By Pervez Hoodbhoy
Some readers, whose intelligence I respect, took my last op-ed to be dismissive of corruption as a cause of Pakistan’s social decay. I apologise for having failed to express myself adequately: I certainly do not dispute that Pakistan is reaping the terrible consequences of wholesale corruption. Corruption, by definition, expropriates that which rightfully belongs to others. By doing so, it hurts the poor more than the rich, lowers productivity, creates mistrust of authority, breaks down the social contract and leads towards ungovernability. We all know that the average Pakistani is frustrated and that he encounters corruption while reporting a crime, seeking justice in a traffic accident, getting an electricity or gas connection, securing admission to school for children, or getting a business contract signed. We have kunda mafias, tanker mafias, and mafias of all shapes and forms that raise the collective blood pressure.
So, instead of emphasising corruption, why did I choose to identify the principal problems of Pakistan as a) unbridled population growth; b) terrorism; and c) slowness of cultural modernisation? (Please wait until I define modernity; it doesn’t mean consumerism or rock music!).
My plea: corruption is a symptom of some social disease, but there are very many different kinds of such diseases. To borrow a medical analogy: high fever could come from typhoid, pneumonia, measles, flu and a hundred other diseases. They can all make you hot and sick, but no genuine doctor specifically targets ‘fever’. Buying the wares of roadside hakeems who advertise anti-fever brews is worse than useless. It is equally useless to target corruption without understanding its origins.
Continue reading Culture, Corruption and the Hereafter