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Injecting the flu vaccine into a tumor gets the immune system to attack it (arstechnica.com)
234 points by apsec112 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

This raises the question of whether infections trigger our bodies to get rid of bad cells such as cancerous cells as the immune system handles it?

If we are never sick in a clean environment does the cancer rate go up? Has this been studied?

For those interested in this approach, I encourage you to read about the OG cancer immunotherapy, Coley's toxins:


Approaches like this have been tried for a long time. Some of the best are using actual viruses, such as oncolytic viruses - see this recent article:


As a non-native speaker, I see OG and think "original grandfather", and that apparently isn't super far off, what does this mean? Sorry for the redirect.

Originally OG meant "original gangster", but now it has come to mean something like an early adaptation.

I've read a number of times over the years that OG was 80s slang for "old guy" (or "an old G"), and that the 90s Ice T song was a play on the older usage. Don't know if there are any citations though.

It’s means the original players or the previously dominant people/organizations which laid out the foundation.

I just read it as "original"

I always read OG as "old guard", a literal translation of the Portuguese term "velha guarda", which has a similar meaning (the oldest people at a Samba school, something like "seniors"). Since I've grown with Samba, OG = old guard = velha guarda was an intuitive translation, I never though of looking for a different expansion.

While it started as an acronym for "original gangster", it's now used as simply "original".

I read stories like this that are so promising and then never hear about them again. And people close to us keep dying from it.

Trying to be observant and not cynical here, but it appears the incentives of the medical system are not always aligned with curing cancer. In the current system, pharma won't funnel it unless there's billions in payoff, while medical oncology, imaging, and radiation are making out like bandits in the current system. How many ads a week do you encounter for "cancer treatment centers"?

We're left with government and charity funding for research, which are both minuscule compared to the above.

This makes no sense. Whoever invents a cure for cancer will have the market cornered and make a ton of money. Drug companies have tremendous incentives to do that. This isn’t a theoretical economic point. It’s exactly what’s happening with Hep C.

Not only that, but someone living past 30 is probably going to need a bunch more health treatments in life. Sure you can milk the dying cancer patient one time a lot, but that’s that then. A cancer survivor is coming back to pay more money to live even longer later.

> Whoever invents a cure for cancer will have the market cornered and make a ton of money. Drug companies have tremendous incentives to do that.

Where to start ...

1) Cancer isn't one disease, it's hundreds. If you live to 110, you will die from cancer.

2) Pharmas don't want a cure. They want a daily dose for 40 years like Rogaine. That's how they make money.

> 2) Pharmas don't want a cure. They want a daily dose for 40 years like Rogaine. That's how they make money.

Why did they invent Hep C cure then? Sofosbuvir was invented in 2007, and approved in the US for 2013. It cures Hepatitis C, which previously required regular doses of drugs. Why did Pharmasset decide to look for a cure instead of regular daily doses? Why did Gilead buy Pharmasset for $11B? Please, explain how it fits into your economic model of healthcare.

assuming the cure isn't open-source/ otherwise impossible to patent and is basically garage-fab easy. ~84K for a course of hep C meds? insulin costing ~6k per patient per year? i see an incredible incentive to provide a more cost-effective treatment yes, but also see that drug companies have incredible incentives to suppress research they cannot control.

Could we treat it like the lottery? Put $x into a fund each year that grows to ridiculous levels for unambiguous cures for cancer(s) along the lines of the recent cure for Hepatitis C.

On March 27, 2019 the Powerball prize was up to $750 million. People were going out of their mind buying Powerball tickets. A system like this would:

1) Make rewards commensurate with difficulty

2) Allow companies to recoup all or part of their R&D investment before even selling their cure

> And people close to us keep dying from it.

Cancer death rates have PLUMMETED since the introduction of immunotherapy.

Do you have recent stats ? I stopped following this field.

ps: immunotherapies are also gentler compared to chemo, also a bonus

They are usually over-sensationalized stories based on experiments in mice that don't generalize.

We get a lot of research projects that feel like they’re testing out new breakthrough theories, to find some consequence of a pathway that has never been seen before.

This one is at least trying to explain anomalous results that have already been reported. I’m not sure if that will end better but at least seems like a better place to start.

Injecting anything bad to cells gets immune system to attack them. The problem is how to selectively inject it to cells you need, no?

In the article:

> The use of melanoma cells is informative, as these cells cannot be infected by the influenza virus. So this system also provides a test of whether the tumor cells themselves have to be infected in order to increase the immune response to them. Apparently they do not. Having an active influenza virus infection reduced the ability of the melanoma cells to establish themselves in the lung. The effect isn't limited to the location of the infection, though, as tumors in the lung that wasn't infected were also inhibited. The effects were similar when breast cancer cells were placed into the lung, as well.

Really? I assumed vaccines wouldn't destroy healthy tissue.

Tumors aren't healthy tissue. My guess is that an immune system on high alert in an area is more likely to notice bad stuff that otherwise gets ignored.

One effective way to get your immune system to kill warts is to induce a low grade infection in the wart. The immune system will "notice" the virus and kill it. If you just freeze them off they are likely to reappear elsewhere because the virus is still present.

How do you induce an infection in a wart?

There are probably multiple ways but the way I read about is to use a pumice stone to scrape away the top layer of skin - doesn't hurt because the skin is dead, and then keep it covered with something like duct tape to prevent it from breathing/healing normally & quickly.

Asking for a friend, right?

No I just wonder how.

> Tumors aren't healthy tissue.

Well, they're tissue that isn't fulfilling its design goals. They're perfectly healthy, sadly.

Freezing them also turns on the immune response.

Vaccines don’t destroy tissue, period. They activate the immune system, which may or may not react to the vaccine by destroying tissue.


Who knows, maybe in tapeworms too.

Awesome news. This gives a lot oh hope for solid tumors.

It's important to note they're using an active form of a flu vaccine for this experiment. I was originally wondering how they can do this with an inactive vaccine (which all flu vaccine used on humans are(?)). Nevertheless, this sounds really awesome!

For influenza, humans may receive either inactived vaccines (e.g. common shot) or live attenuated vaccines (e.g. nasal spray).[1]

I assume whether a live virus is attenuated in research like TFA depends on the hypothesis they're testing. ?

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/how-fluvaccine-made.htm

Wow, finally a reason to get flu shots.

I would have guessed that the adjuvants were responsible, but it turns out that adjuvants were negatively correlated with reduced tumor growth.


Did you reply to yourself? Why?

Hackernews comments can only be edited for a few minutes after posting them. If you have a change of heart two hours later, replying is one way to update future readers.


> Oddly, this wasn't true for every flu vaccine. Some vaccines contain chemicals that enhance the immune system's memory, promoting the formation of a long-term response to pathogens (called adjuvants). When a vaccine containing one of these chemicals was used, the immune system wasn't stimulated to limit the tumors' growth.

I didn’t have a change of heart. It says that in the article, near the bottom. People downvote weird shit here.

Oh, you were commenting on the downvotes. When you made that comment, you hadn't been greyed out so it wasn't obvious.

Commenting on downvotes is against HN policy.

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