guest post by Elizabeth Lakoma
My name is Elizabeth Lakoma, and I am currently an undergraduate student at Northwestern University studying Chemistry and Biology – in my free time, I love to draw, make art, and doodle in the margins. I created this comic as an assignment for one of my college seminars, titled “Science and the Scientist: How we communicate complex ideas, from comic books to journal articles”, where we were prompted to describe a scientific concept through creative media.
I am really interested in recent developments in cancer clinical trials. A few years ago, when one of my uncles was diagnosed with Uveal Melanoma, I overheard my parents discussing him receiving an experimental clinical trial that had a 50% success rate. This was my first introduction to the world of novel, experimental therapies. One therapy that particularly struck my attention was Oncolytic Virus Therapy – the use of an attenuated, modified virus to lyse cancerous cells and stimulate an immune response. I was drawn to how creative and out-of-the-box this therapy was, and how incredible it was that scientists could utilize the pre-existing mechanisms of a virus to target cancerous cells. Furthermore, I chose this therapy as the focus of my final project for a seminar because I wanted to explain this fascinating therapy in a more digestible, comprehensive manner to my peers. I hoped to express the optimism I felt when learning about budding cancer research and clinical applications. There grow more and more options for therapies, allowing patients to target their illnesses more specifically to their condition and more effectively. I hope to use comics and art as a means of sharing the mysteries, wonders, and achievements of science and, ultimately, what this entails for the general public.
1. American Cancer Society Cancer Facts & Figures 2020.
s-figures-2020.html (accessed 2021-12-08).
2. Fowler, S., Roush, R., & Wise, J. Concepts of Biology; OpenStax, 2013.
https://openstax.org/books/concepts-biology/ (accessed 2021-12-08).
3. American Cancer Society Oncogenes and Tumor Suppressor Genes.
-suppressor-genes.html (accessed 2021-12-08).
4. Surgery to Treat Cancer National Cancer Institute.
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types/surgery (accessed 2021-12-08).
5. Radiation Therapy to Treat Cancer National Cancer Institute.
6. Chemotherapy to Treat Cancer National Cancer Institute.
7. Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer National Cancer Institue.
8. Bell, J.; How Oncolytic Virus Therapy is Changing Cancer Treatment National Cancer
9. Lin, C., Li, H., Hao, M. et al. Increasing the Efficiency of CRISPR/Cas9-mediated
Precise Genome Editing of HSV-1 Virus in Human Cells. Sci Rep 6, 34531; 2016;.
10. Mechanisms of Oncolytic Virus Targeting Tumor Cells Creative Biolabs Oncotherapy.
g-tumor-cells.htm (accessed 2021-12-08).
11. Oncolytic Virus Therapy: Using Tumor-Targetting Viruses to Treat Cancer.
-cancer (accessed 2021-12-08).
12. Marelli G; Howells A; Lemoine NR; Wang Y; Oncolytic Viral Therapy and the Immune
System: A Double-Edged Sword Against Cancer. Front. Immunol. 9:866; 2018; doi:
13. Kelly, E.; Russel, S.; History of Oncolytic Viruses: Genesis to Genetic Engineering;
Molecular Therapy; vol. 9, no. 4; P651-659; 2007; h ttps://doi.org/10.1038/sj.mt.6300108
14. Coffin, R.; Interview with Robert Coffin, inventor of T-VEC: the first oncolytic
immunotherapy approved for the treatment of cancer. Immunotherapy vol. 8,2; 103-6;
15. Schvartsman G.; Perez K.; Flynn JE , et al; Safe and effective administration of T-VEC in
a patient with heart transplantation and recurrent locally advanced melanoma; Journal for
ImmunoTherapy of Cancer 5: 45.; 2017; doi: 10.1186/s40425-017-0250-5