3D Printing and Oncolytic Virus Contribute to Precise Medical Solutions

Abstract: Many drugs have been developed or are under research for cancer treatment. With the advancement of technology, precise medical solutions for individuals may provide better effect with cheaper cost.

On the morning of May 19, 2014, at the Innovator Conference held in the lobby of the New York Historical Society, an Autodesk Genetic Engineer, Andrew Hessel, told all the representatives of the large pharmaceutical factories how he will treat cancer: first to test the virus that can kill tumor cells, and then use a 3D printer to cultivate these viruses in the laboratory.

In an interview with Le Monde, Hessel introduced, “These viruses are called oncolytic viruses, and scientists have studied them decades ago. These viruses are weakly infectious pathogens, but can infect tumor cells without damaging healthy body cells. Some companies have used these viruses to conduct clinical trials and have achieved success. But now, no one can use computers to design these viruses and cultivate them according to the needs of each patient.”

As we all know, chemotherapy is one of the common methods of cancer treatment. While chemotherapy kills tumor cells, it also kills normal cells in the body. Therefore, its side effects can cause other diseases. This is equivalent to dropping a nuclear bomb into New York City in order to eliminate a criminal gang.

Putting a new drug on the market is a very tortuous process, which requires decades of clinical trials and government approval. Therefore, Hessel does not want to produce and sell medicines, but uses continuously developing genetic engineering and powerful computers to tailor the treatment plan for each cancer patient.

Hessel heads the Nanotechnology Department of Autodesk in California. Their most successful product is AutoCAD (Automatic Computer Aided Design Software). At that time, genetic technology began to achieve some initial achievements, which Hessel found could provide a good opportunity for the digitization of medicine.

“A friend of mine mentioned the oncolytic virus to me, and I think that if we cultivate it for each patient, we can improve the efficacy and efficiency. Our cells are like a small computer, DNA is its operating system. Genetic technology enables us to digitize the information of this operating system, just like digitizing a text, a song.” He said.

Hassell’s cancer treatment plan is very different from those of large pharmaceutical factories. Their goal is to obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration to place drugs with few side effects on the market. But Hessel thought if individual cancer patients could receive tailor-made treatment plans, the treatment will be more effective.

Some scientists in the scientific community questioned his treatment plan and warned him that cancer was not as simple as it seemed. Hessel just thought his plan was the beginning of a revolution, just like the advent of the first personal computers.

Today, about 600 investors support his plan. He guarantees that the cost of designing and nurturing a cancer patient will only cost about 730 euros, and with the enhancement of computer functions, treatment will become much cheaper and simpler. But at present, their treatment can be applied to humans.

According to Hessel, although success is still unreal for therapies like oncolytic viruses, it is not just a scene in science fiction. The cure for an individual’s cancer could be a small-market drug or a virus that’s tailor-made just for them. And the future fighting against cancer is looking brighter by the day.