Page 1 of 4

0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:07 am UTC
by Eebster the Great
Image
Alt text: " 'We're not sure how to wipe out the chimeral T-cells after they've destroyed the cancer. Though I do have this vial of smallpox ...' "

The idea of using HIV to distribute genetic treatment always struck me more as brilliant than scary. It sounds like the ideal cancer treatment for people who are already positive! ;)

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:19 am UTC
by Taymon
Just crazy enough to work...or just crazy enough to fail hilariously tragically?

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:25 am UTC
by asmodai

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:25 am UTC
by silverkitty
"Are you sure you're a doctor?"
"No, I'm a biomedical researcher. You might recall joining this experimental program because you couldn't get any more help from doctors. Of course, it's not too late to quit the program and hope doctors can keep you alive 10 years until all the trials and approvals are done. (If, of course, this turns out to be useful and non-lethal, otherwise the trials will be aborted and the approvals won't get done while we go back to the drawing board.)"

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:26 am UTC
by Sean Quixote
Do they... really do that? I guess HIV+ patients would be the best ones to start with...

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:26 am UTC
by asmodai
Also: Somebody should probably email David L. Porter, M.D. to let him know he's being lampooned by stick figures.
I mean, I'd wanna know.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:28 am UTC
by asmodai
Viral vectors are safe. We use rabies as a tracer a lot down at the lab quite a bit. It's pretty well researched stuff, and those researchers weren't wearing cowboy hats, so we're probably good.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:30 am UTC
by Meng Bomin
The nasty part of HIV is what happens when its genetic code is acted upon, so if you use an HIV capsid but put in a different set of RNA, it doesn't really act like HIV anymore. That said, the framing of the issue in the comic is pretty hilarious, so I have to give Randall a thumbs up for this one.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:32 am UTC
by addams
That is funny stuff. Mr. Monroe must be a funny guy to have around.

Yes. Dr. Potter may be very honored.

Wouldn't you? That is some dense reading.

Go get 'em, Researchers!

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:32 am UTC
by Alexander The 1st
I'm reminded of this:

http://sluggy.com/comics/archives/daily/970830

I do love the delivery of "Almost definitely." though; "Well, I'm currently going after my PHD and this is my thesis, but I do have a Masters in biomedical, so it should be fine. What could go wrong?"

On a related note, just got home from watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:43 am UTC
by boothby171
Just wanted to be the first to say: CANE TOADS

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:50 am UTC
by niky
This news is old... In Internet terms, a week's lead is like reading news in the paper a month later!

Still, even though this may not eventually pan out, it's a fantastic step forward in the fight against cancer.

Now if we could only use carcinogens (like nicotine) to cure STDs... I've got the tagline written already...

"A pack a day keeps the herpes away..."

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:59 am UTC
by Wes Janson
I'm mildly disappointed; I would've sworn Randall was about to insert a Blade Runner reference somewhere around the third panel of the comic... :?

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:03 am UTC
by WK1
There was an old lady who swallowed a fly. I don't know why she swallowed that fly. Perhaps she'll die.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:03 am UTC
by skine
Just to make it clear, this treatment does not infect someone with HIV in a sort of Dr House plot twist where they swap one disease for another and then tell them to wear a condom.

It's a modified, harmless strain of the virus.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:05 am UTC
by ad169
Wow. Randall, implying that a lentiviral vector is equivalent to an HIV infection is ignorant and irresponsible. I can't help but feel that you know better.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:07 am UTC
by ugmhemhe
I am imagining the plot of "I am Legend" right now

EVERYONE! PREPARE FOR THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE!

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:16 am UTC
by Clayh
I really did NOT see where this was going until the last panel.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:19 am UTC
by skine
niky wrote:Now if we could only use carcinogens (like nicotine)

Technically, nicotine is not a known carcinogen. There are 19 known carcinogens in tobacco smoke, but nicotine is not one of them.

While dispelling nicotine myths, it, on its own, is less addictive than caffeine. What makes tobacco addictive is the mixture of nicotine and MAOIs (which you may recognize as antidepressants).

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:21 am UTC
by Plasma Mongoose
With all the talk on patching, I thought this was some kind of software analogy.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:30 am UTC
by nico
They are NOT infecting people with HIV. They injected one patient with its own T-cells, that were previously prelevated and treated with a self-inactivating lentiviral vector (which had been preclinically tested) containing, amongst many other things, a part of a sequence of the HIV genome.

It worked quite well, not perfectly, but it's the first human trial and in these cases you have to do a risks-benefits analysis... They did not stop doing hearth transplants after the first ones that had complications, did they?

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:36 am UTC
by masher
silverkitty wrote:"Are you sure you're a doctor?"
"No, I'm a biomedical researcher.

who will 99% have a PhD, and therefore be a doctor.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:38 am UTC
by superglucose
This is EXACTLY why I love medicine so much. It's accelerated problem solving. "ok, we need to fight cancer with cancer. How do we do that?" "HIV."

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:45 am UTC
by BlueLabel
I'm sorry but I was pretty disappointed with this comic. I get that Mr. Munroe is probably not a specialist in genetics methodology but lentiviral transduction is a standby technique in biological/life science labs. A perfunctory review of modern gene therapy approaches couldn't possibly overlook this technique. It's a shame that it's been so grossly mischaracterized here. Usually the science jokes turn on the readers' understanding of the concept being discussed - here it's only funny if the reader is ignorant of the technique.

Just to clarify, there is nothing new or novel about using modified retrovirus to deliver genetic material to human cells. This is an incredibly common lab protocol. I was transducing glioma cell lines as an undergrad. That this is what's been highlighted as the innovative aspect of this research is rather shocking to me.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:45 am UTC
by surrealize
When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:50 am UTC
by ManaUser
Can't be a real doctor, he's got a little mirror thing strapped to his forehead.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:52 am UTC
by cef
This generic anti-viral (DRACO) could be the answer...

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/antiviral-0810.html

However, nothing that says how persistent this would be in the body, or whether it would actually work on HIV.

Of course, something stupid like one of the following scenarios 'might just happen':

1. Get cancer, take HIV-based remedy, take DRACO to get rid of a (different) viral infection, cancer comes back and can't be treated by HIV-based remedy again.

2. Take DRACO to get rid of a viral infection, find out later that DRACO causes cancer, but also renders HIV-based remedy ineffective.

Note: I think this only occurred to me because I saw both of these stories on the same day.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:53 am UTC
by astrosteve
I knew there had to be more than injecting them with HIV (I knew it would have to modified in some way), but I still had to fight not to literally lol at this. (Mainly because I was on the phone in a very serious conversation. Why I was reading xkcd during a serious phone conversation is another matter.)

But big thumbs up. This is the funniest comic in a long time.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:53 am UTC
by Eternal Density
When I saw the comic title I thought "here we go, another cancer comic :(" but then when the image loaded it looked kinda interesting rather than just depressing and when I continued reading, it was funny. But because it's about cancer I feel bad about finding it funny. I'm so torn :(

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:53 am UTC
by TheRedSeven
surrealize wrote:When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death


I came to say exactly this, but you beat me to it.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:57 am UTC
by DirectorAlwyn
I'm disappointed! I thought this was setting up for the old lady who swallowed a fly, with the punchline being about this article where they have a potential cure for all viruses!

http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/antiviral-0810.html

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:03 am UTC
by asmodai
I'm kind of surprised that some people seem to be non-comically freaked out by this. I thought we would all be 'in' on the joke.

Listen, guys, of THIS scares you you must not have heard: Some crackpot "doctors" want to prevent us getting infections BY INJECTING US WITH INFECTIOUS AGENTS! It's LUNACY!

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:21 am UTC
by Harry Voyager
skine wrote:
niky wrote:Now if we could only use carcinogens (like nicotine)

Technically, nicotine is not a known carcinogen. There are 19 known carcinogens in tobacco smoke, but nicotine is not one of them.

While dispelling nicotine myths, it, on its own, is less addictive than caffeine. What makes tobacco addictive is the mixture of nicotine and MAOIs (which you may recognize as antidepressants).


As I recall, the main issue was that the tar from the smoke glued all the ambient radioactives to your lungs. Smoking rolled up grape leaves will give you about the same level of expected future lung cancer. Of course, if you're smoking grape leaves, cancer is the least of your concerns.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:21 am UTC
by musashi1600
My first reaction when reading about this was, "Does this mean scientists might be able to use HIV to cure HIV?" Interestingly, there's someone in this Fark thread who replied "Yes" with an explanation.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:32 am UTC
by HoshiRyo
Actually, I'd known this was in the works since sometime last year--well, I'd been wondering if anybody would agree to participate in the testing, but...

Cancer immunity (or something practically close to, sorry, taught myself immunology) can be conferred by having the right sequence in your HLA section -- it's on the 6th chromosome and does a lot in controlling the immune system. A lot of weird stuff comes out of the research here. HIV turns up a lot in papers, including why some people are immune (they become asymptomatic carriers instead of developing AIDS).

Anyway. When you're using viral vectors in splicing, you basically hollow it out, kind of like the cockroach in the first MiB movie did to get its Edgar suit. This has less to do with safety and more to do with the practical reason of, well...same reason the cockroach hollowed out its Edgar suit: you want space for your stuff.

Bottom line? Sure, it's HIV. At worst, however, cause sexually-transmitted immunosuppression of cancer if it somehow pops out of the modified T-cells... (Usually the genes involved in that get removed, too; every last codon counts!)

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:38 am UTC
by Lukeonia1
"Did you know you can just BUY lab coats?"

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 6:43 am UTC
by Isaac
Harry Voyager wrote:
skine wrote:
niky wrote:Now if we could only use carcinogens (like nicotine)

Technically, nicotine is not a known carcinogen. There are 19 known carcinogens in tobacco smoke, but nicotine is not one of them.

While dispelling nicotine myths, it, on its own, is less addictive than caffeine. What makes tobacco addictive is the mixture of nicotine and MAOIs (which you may recognize as antidepressants).


As I recall, the main issue was that the tar from the smoke glued all the ambient radioactives to your lungs. Smoking rolled up grape leaves will give you about the same level of expected future lung cancer. Of course, if you're smoking grape leaves, cancer is the least of your concerns.


like smoking a joint is three times as likely to give you cancer as smoking cigerettes...... since a "joint" is not a defined quantity of measure.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 7:01 am UTC
by Whys
Simply amazing. Next we'll need to cure Entropy.

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:11 am UTC
by crookster
I'm shocked, what a classless move

Re: 0938: "T-Cells"

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 8:12 am UTC
by cef
Lukeonia1 wrote:"Did you know you can just BUY lab coats?"


Heh. I tell people the same sort of thing all the time re: hi-vis work-wear. No one questions you if you're working around a building site as long as you're wearing the right stuff!

PS: Ta to the mod who took care of my first post. Somehow missed that posting links in your first 5 posts was bad. Oops!