Viruses as a cause for Cancer - and other diseases (part 3)

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This article is not about the clinical side of this theory of mine - it's about the path that led me to believe in it.

For a long time now, I've been utterly convinced that most kinds of cancer (except those caused by really faulty genetics which cause childhood mortality) would eventually be discovered to be caused by either a bacterium, a fungus, or a virus. (more...)

#Health, #alzheimer's, #herpes, #cure, #arthritis, #cancer, #theory, #shingles
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The Herpes Virus - what is it? (part 2)

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Suppressing herpes virus may reduce infectiousness of HIV

This is a picture of a herpes virus. It's a virus that most people come into contact with at one stage or other during their lives - usually when they're children. Different forms of this virus cause:

Virus SubtypeClassificationDisease
Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV1)HHV1Coldsores
Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV2)HHV2Genital Herpes
Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)HHV3Chickenpox, shingles
Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)HHV4Mono (infectious mononucleosis), Burkitt's Lyphoma, CNS symptoms in AIDS patients, post-transplant lymphoproliferative syndrome (PTLD), nasopharyngeal carcinoma
Cytomegalovirus (CMV)HHV5Mono-like symptoms (infectious mononucleosis-like syndrome), retinitis, cytomegalovirus colitis, cytomegalovirus hepatitis
RoseolavirusHHV6, 7"Rose rash" (roseola infantum), "sixth disease", "three day fever", "baby measles"
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)HHV8Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoman, some types of Castleman's disease

Table taken from Wikipedia.

There may be other forms of this virus associated with other diseases in humans; there are over 100 known herpes viruses - there may well be many more.

The viruses are classified into three groups based on the types of tissue they exhibit affinity for in the body.

VirusesTissue typeClassification
HSV1, HSV2, VZVNervous system tissueAlphaherpesvirinae
CMV, RoseolavirusLymph tissue and lymphatic systemBetaherpesvirinae
EBV, KSHVT or B lymphocytes; also lymphotropicGammaherpesvirinae

As many as 90% of the population carry one or all of these viruses in their systems. After infection, the virus hides in a latent form, where it can stay dormant for years - possibly forever - until the conditions are ripe for it to come out and replicate again.

In the alpha viruses, it hides inside the cytosome of the nervous tissue awaiting reactivation, often caused by stress or inflammation. I mentioned this previously in an earlier post on Alzheimers, Herpes and Etanercept; the key trigger for alpha virus reactivation appears to be the presence of TNEF-alpha in large quantities, telling the virus that it's safe to come out because the immune system is currently busy.

In the beta viruses, they hide inside the nucleii of the lympahtic cells themselves, causing what are known as "Owl's Eye" inclusion bodies - so called from their appearance:

CMV Owl's Eye inclusion bodies

The gamma viruses behave similarly to the beta viruses, but target specific lymphocytes.

When the virus replicates, it often destroys the host cell in the process, or severely distorts it.

The Herpes Virus - A cause for more diseases than we give it credit for?

Most of the literature on the web tends to only consider the problems with chronic and acute infections by herpes viruses. These typically form in children (upon first exposure), in the form of sexually transmitted disease (HSV2), or in immunocompromised patients (for example, people with AIDS, organ transplant patients, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy).

They don't tend to consider the long-term effects of a sub-clinical infection; after all, if there are no symptoms, then the body is looking after itself - it's why we have an immune system.

However, I believe that it is important to consider sub-clinical infection and asymptomatic infection as potential causes or cofactors in a wide number of diseases - ranging from heart disease to most cancers.

This is becoming more possible now, partly because of the creation of gene-chip technology - especially viral chip assays, which allow any tissue sample to be tested for the presence of a virus quickly and efficiently. This is something that was not easily possible before, and has lead to the discovery of the presence of herpesviridae in many cancers. However, the researchers are not yet willing to draw a conclusive line between these results and the cause of the diseases themselves. In the case of Alzheimer's disease, however, we can definitively say at this point that there is a direct connection. And much of the research is showing other connections too.

The next article in this series will cover the path that led me to this conclusion. After that, I'll start tackling each disease, with references to the research. And finally, some proposed treatments that can if not cure the diseases, at least slow them down as long as doctors are willing to prescribe common medications off-label.

CMV Owl's Eye Inclusion picture source: Dan Wiedbrauk, Ph.D., Warde Medical Laboratory, Ann Arbor, MI. Used for educational purposes.
Herpes Virus picture source: taken from http://www.health-news-blog.com/blogs/permalinks/11-2007/suppressing-infectiousness-of-hiv.html; original source unknown

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#Health, #alzheimer's, #herpes, #cure, #arthritis, #cancer, #theory, #shingles
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Games and Storytelling: Tropes

This article was originally written a couple of months ago for the Surreal Game Design blog, which is currently deceased. I'm publishing it here instead.

I know what you're thinking. Let me guess. I can see it on the tip of your tongue. What the hell is a trope? Is this British lunatic making up words again?

A trope is a kind of story-telling shorthand. Camera cuts are tropes. Camera dissolves are tropes. The good guy in a Western riding off into the sunset at the Khaaaaaaaaan!!!!! end of the movie is a trope. The nerdy guy getting the girl by the end of the teen movie? That's a trope too.

They're like memes, but instead of being Just infectious ideas, they're specifically memes that relate to how a story is told. The only other meme with a given name I've ever come across is the ear worm.

The really cool thing about tropes (other than the information they convey) is that unlike most industry short-hand, they actually have cool names. I mean, where else are you going to come across a camera move called "The Khan"? (Although it should really be spelled The Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!)[1]

Of course, video games have their own particular brands of tropes specific to them. After all, once you have a new story-telling medium, it suddenly accrues tropes like barnacles. The one everyone has heard of is "Crate Expectations", and it's now a sport to rank games on the amount of time you have to play until you hit the first crate in the game.

Why do we like tropes?

Well, for a start, once they become embedded in the media, you don't have to think about them any more. You don't think about hitting the Start button to pause your game... and nowadays, all kinds of things can be expected to live in the start menu - like your current list of objectives. That's a trope too.

Oh wow... what's that... oh... it's another crate. Not only are they a useful user interface tool, but they push the medium along. Look at an old movie from the 60s. (Sorry, film students... I'm going to pick on Citizen Kane and 2001: A Space Odyssey now as specific examples). They're shit. Well, okay, maybe that's a bit strong. They're not shit. They exemplify the inherent beauty in the medium, and they were stellar works for their time... but the medium has moved on. They're now boring as all hell, and no matter how emphatically anyone whispers "Rosebud"[2] into a boom mike, and no matter how many candles of lighting you throw at it to make it have the largest depth of field ever imaginable (even if the actors get all squinty), I'm still going to only get 15 minutes into the movie at the end of the day before I get bored and turn it off. As for 2001, let's face it, you're only going to watch it for the end these days, and there's only so many times you can watch that without getting so completely mindblowingly high that you start trying to sync it up to Dark Side Of The Moon.

Why?

The medium has moved on. We learned the short-hand. And once you know the short-hand, you don't need the long version any more. Everything these days is fast paced Jerry Bruckheimer cuts[3] and always starts in media res. In fact, some media relies on tropes for its effectiveness. Spoof films like Airplane, for example. Horror movies pretty much require them - you just don't get that "Don't go in there!" feeling unless you've seen how it goes down when they walk through that door a million times before.

This kind of thing doesn't usually happen when I drink tequila. Although the hangover feels like that. Where things get interesting is when a new trope hits and spreads like wildfire. The rage flashes in The Suffering were a horror videogame trope that hadn't appeared before in the medium (although they'd been used in other places in film before). Possibly the most well known new camera trope in a long time has to be the Bullet Time sequences in The Matrix movies (which then quickly jumped the divide and started showing up in video games as well - heck, Stranglehold even called it Tequila Time). Michael Gondry had previously tried to get the ball rolling with a number of music videos along the same lines, and then The Gap commercials writ it in stone, but it took The Matrix for it to become a trope. And now it shows up everywhere - even in animation where frankly, it's not even that flashy because... well.. it's animation, and you can do anything you like in animation, just by drawing whatever you want to see.

So what's the brand new trope I care about right now?

That'd be something I just saw in Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. And I'll talk about it in my next (hopefully much shorter) post.

(Crate photo stolen from tvtropes.org)

[1] Which brings me right back to the earworms... but I digress.
[2] Spoiler Warning: It's the sled. The sled is called Rosebud.
[3] Jerry Bruckheimer cuts are cuts which last no longer than 5 seconds. Watch any Bruckheimer movie, and you'll see that none of his cuts last longer than this. It's what makes them chock-full of actiony stuff.

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Little Miss Litty - The Pitch

The elevator pitch:

Little Miss Litty is the story of a schoolteacher who discovers that one of her children is being haunted by a demon. In an effort to save her, she ends up burning down a classroom full of children - and then, the demon latches onto her.

So what now?

I'm working on wrapping up the rewrites on the screenplay. I've identified about 10 extra pages I need to add to the script... possibly 15. (I know... it's weird, but I have a tendency of writing short... So it's too tight, and needs a bit of padding - and missing pieces added back in... I try to err on the side of assuming that my audience can read my mind... I just took it a wee bit too far this time.).

I'm officially looking for representation at this point. I need an agent who can push this to the right people.

image
This puppy is officially for sale :D This is page 2, by the way...

What else?

Well, if I have my druthers, I'd get it in the hands of Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Cypher), or James Wan (Saw, Death Sentence). Somehow I can see David Hewlett playing Miles, and he's basically part of the package with Natali, so that's cool :)

Either way, time to get this puppy wrapped up, and into the hands of people who can do something with it.

If you'd like to be part of my read-through crew, or if you are an agent, or know a good one, please contact me at simon at popcorn films dot com.

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