I think we can agree that the common cold sucks. I also think we can agree that it doesn't suck nearly as badly as cancer. Researchers at the Salk Institute
, though, may be on the trail of a way to turn the lesser of these two evils into a weapon in the fight against the other. This week, a study in the journal Cell
reports that the Salk team has taken steps toward hijacking the common cold's ability to disable immune responses within cells.
That could lead to engineered cold viruses that hunt down and destroy cancer cells
, while leaving healthy cells in peace.
While there's maybe no medical technology today with more potential, stem cell treatments are not without their own problems. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs)
-- those created in a laboratory after being devolved from other adult cells -- are getting easier to make every day, but are still expensive to manufacture and run the risk of causing health problems of their own, possibly even becoming cancerous. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs)
, meanwhile, have been shown to be effective and largely safe for patients, but their use in medicine remains controversial. A team of researchers working at the Salk Institute
and the University of California San Diego
has taken a step toward understanding what makes both sorts of cells tick, though. They've discovered a unique molecular signature that indicates when a stem cell has been created in a lab rather than harvested from an unimplanted embryo.