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  • Nate Scharping

How Viruses Could Cure Cancer and Save Lives

After more than a century of risky trials and medical advances, a viral cure for cancer could be on the horizon.


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Sitting in an isolated room at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Frank Nielsen steeled himself for the first injection. Doctors were about to take a needle filled with herpes simplex virus, the strain responsible for cold sores, and plunge it directly into his scalp. If all went well, it would likely save his life.


Nielsen was a cancer survivor and, once again, a cancer patient. His melanoma, which had responded to conventional treatments the first time around, had returned with a frightening aggressiveness. Within weeks, a lump on his scalp had swelled into an ugly mass. Unlike the first time, options like surgery weren’t viable — it was growing too quickly.


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