Support Research of Genetically Modified Virus Treatments

Target: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Goal: To increase funding and research into using genetically-modified viruses to treat medical ailments.

Using genetically modified viruses to treat various ailments has shown significant promise in preliminary testing on lab animals, but more research and testing is needed before these treatments can be considered safe and effective for use on humans. Sign this petition and urge the U.S. Department of Health to increase funding and support research into using genetically modified viruses to treat disease.

The BBC recently published two articles about the use of genetically modified viruses being used to successfully treat diseases in lab animals. One of the articles discussed how scientists are using viruses to rebuild pacemaker cells in a heart so that battery-powered pacemakers are no longer required. Scientists used a virus to infect heart muscle with a gene that is present when pacemaker cells originally form. The virus converts beating heart muscle into pacemaker cells that then control the heart’s rhythm. More research is needed into this field of cell therapy, but the potential health benefits are huge as current battery-powered pacemakers are not an adequate solution. Sometimes fatal complications currently arise from the electronic devices’ being prone to breakage, displacement, and bacterial infection. The devices are powered by batteries which have a limited lifetime and require changes. Additionally, children who use electronic pacemakers need multiple surgeries over their lifetime as the device does not mature and grow with the child.

Scientists are also investigating how viruses may be used to treat cancer. Scientists have recently manipulated white blood cells to carry viruses deep within tumors caused by prostate cancer. This new advance in cancer therapy would be conducted after a patient has undergone chemotherapy and radiation–a process which destroys tissue and floods the body with white blood cells to repair the damage. Scientists use this natural bodily response and manipulate the white blood cells to carry a virus into the tumor. The virus then replicates thousands of times over the next several hours and bursts the white blood cells which eject 10,000 viruses each that then go on to attack and kill the cancerous cells of the tumor. In this study, the tumors were completely destroyed and did not grow back.

These medical studies could have profound effects on the treatment of heart disease and advanced stages of cancer. However, they are new fields of study and more research must be done before they are proven safe for human trial. As of right now, pacemakers and chemotherapy and radiation are the top of the line treatments for heart disease and cancer–they are the best science can offer and in many cases, they are not enough. Science needs to continue to advance. Sign this petition and urge the Department of Health to increase funding into the research of how genetically modified viruses can be used to treat disease.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

A recent trend in medical research shows great promise for the future treatment of heart disease and advanced cancer. Scientists have been using genetically modified viruses to grow pacemaker cells in hearts and to manipulate white blood cells into acting as a “Trojan Horse” to sneak viruses into a tumor.

These studies have proven successful in growing pacemaker cells in guinea pigs as well as in eradicating tumors from advanced prostate cancer in mice. While these studies show promise, they need more research and testing before they can be ready for human trial. However, their potential as cures for heart disease and prostate cancer, if not more cancers, is huge. Please continue to fund research into the use of genetically modified viruses to treat disease.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: NWABR via flickr

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One Comment

  1. I will not support the experimentation on animals. This is cruel.

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