‘I’m a GMO’: Melanoma survivor explains how biotech improves cancer treatments and our food supply

Arctic Apple x e
Non-browning Arctic apple. Credit: Arctic Apple
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Several years ago I felt several bumps on my head which turned out to be active melanoma tumors …. The prognosis was stage four malignant cancer. [My doctors] prescribed a clinical trial involving a genetically modified virus called T-Vec.

[Editor’s note: Steve Clark is a retired high-school science teacher in California.]

[I]t involved a [GMO] herpes virus; the genes that cause cold sores were removed and replaced with a gene that causes the virus to replicate inside malignant melanoma cells. Then a second gene that stimulated the production of T-cells …. was inserted.

These modified viruses were injected into the tumors on my scalp. They reproduced until the cancer cells burst and released hundreds of new viruses that entered and destroyed other malignant cells …. So I had both cancer killing viruses and cancer-fighting cells in my body. The tumors on my head went down quickly. Months later, the tumors in my lungs shrank and disappeared.

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Now I’m putting peanut butter on apple wedges from a non-browning Arctic apple. In these apples, the gene that causes browning is blocked …. Whether in cancer cells or apples, genetically modified organisms are improving lives. I’m happy to be a living GMO.

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