The words “virus and medical usage,” does send mixed signals to the mind, stirring up some degree of confusion. But this is to be expected given that these viruses are known to cause diseases, suffering, and even death.
Despite the bad reputation that the word, virus bear, these microorganisms, like bacteria, can be important, as they could be beneficial in human health treatments and medicinal purposes.
This post will review 10 of the viruses that can be harnessed for medical treatments, beginning with the HIV virus.
1. HIV virus.
HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that weakens the immune system, and an extended weakening of the system, which could take years, will result in AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The disease, which has caused the death of millions of people, is fatal if no medical attention is sought. Regardless of how deadly it is, disabled HIV virus has been found to be useful in the treatment of leukemia. The treatment works by using the virus to engineer T-cells, in 22 days, to kill leukemic cells.
2. Zika virus.
Zika virus, a disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, causes zika fever. Zika virus also causes massive damage to the brain of a growing fetus. Despite all of these shortcomings, it could be used to treat aggressive brain cancer. Research has shown that the zika virus can kill brain cancer cells, which have proved to be resistant to standard treatments while leaving the healthy ones untouched. Brain cancer is fatal, but hopefully, the lethal power of the Zika Virus could be directed at effectively treating the malignant cells in the brain.
These are single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) Virus associated with various human and mammalian diseases. The disease mainly causes flu-like illness with fever and body aches. In a few cases, it could lead to viral meningitis. The virus, on the other hand, has shown a lot of positive signs in cancer treatment therapy.
4. Murine norovirus.
This mice infecting virus can be a significant milestone for medicinal purposes because of its role in the development of the intestine and the immune system of mice. The murine norovirus could help recover the functions of specific gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria help absorb or digest food like carbohydrates.
5. Herpes simplex.
Genital herpes is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted diseases in the world. It is commonly marked by pain and sores around the genitals, or fever blisters around the mouth, depending on the type, HSV-2 or HSV-1 respectively. On the brighter side, an injectable drug has been developed from Herpes simplex virus to treat melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer.
This is an infectious virus that typically occurs during childhood, causing fever or rash in the skin. The measles virus, on the upside, is said to be potentially effective against cancer tumors. It was observed that occasional tumor regressions do occur during natural measles infections. The measles viruses have been found to be impressive as an antitumor agent in mouse xenograft models. The viruses, according to researchers, could be modified or re-engineered to facilitate noninvasive monitoring and treatment of tumor cells. Cases exist where the measles virus was engineered to attack myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) cells.
This virus is usually benign but could affect the upper respiratory and gastrointestinal system causing flu-like symptoms and diarrhea respectively. Reovirus on a more positive note is believed to infect and kills cancer cells in their unmodified form. Reovirus is currently one of the leading oncolytic viruses undergoing clinical trials internationally. There are over 20 clinical trials, completed, that prove reovirus has clinical therapeutic applicability against a multitude of cancers such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
8. Maraba virus.
The maraba virus could cause short flu-like illness. The virus, commonly found in sand flies, has recently been characterized as a potent oncolytic virus. In a study, an engineered and disabled Maraba strain known as MG1 expressed a melanoma-associated tumor antigen. It was evaluated to mount an antitumor immunity in melanoma tumor-bearing mice.
The virus has also been discovered to target and destroy the kind of HIV-infected cells that standard antiretroviral therapies can’t treat. Daily medications of the virus kept the level of HIV in the blood low but weren’t be able to eliminate dormant HIV-infected cells in the human body. The hidden HIV viruses rapidly rebound when an infected person stops taking antiretroviral medications. Using a number of laboratory models of HIV-infected cells, researchers found that the MG1 virus targeted and eliminated the infected cells while they left healthy cells unharmed.
This is a virus that is found in a broad range of vertebrate hosts. Among humans, there are more than 50 distinct adenoviral serotypes that have been discovered, which could lead to many illnesses, from mild respiratory infections in young children, pneumonia, pink eye, cold cold, diarrhea, fever, sore throat to life-threatening multi-organ disease in people with a weak immune system.
But again, like previously mentioned viruses, adenoviruses have a popular viral vector for gene therapy with the potential to treat cystic fibrosis. It has also been approved in China as a therapy for head and neck cancer.
10. Vaccinia virus.
A Vaccinia virus infection is mild and could show no symptoms in healthy individuals. However, it may cause a mild rash and fever. Immune responses generated from a Vaccinia virus infection have proven to protect a person against lethal smallpox infection. Vaccinia virus is still being used as a live-virus vaccine against smallpox and variola virus.
Ongoing research abounds as scientists continue to find ways of using these and many other viruses to fight cancer and deadly diseases. With improvements in science and technology and technical know-how, the future, with regards to eradicating these diseases, seems very bright.