Cancer campaigners ‘go viral’ in battle against killer disease

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Cancer campaigners are using the global power of social media to raise money in memory of Steve Jobs.

The appeal, directed at users of Twitter and Facebook, aims to “go viral” to fight the disease that killed the Apple founder and chief executive.

Experts hope to develop a virus to destroy neuroendocrine tumours (nets) which affect around 3,000 people a year in the UK.

The iCancer campaign is seeking a one-off donation of £2 – the cost of an iPhone app – from a million people.

Social media expert Liz Scarff, who is helping to run the campaign, said: “We are mavericks taking this to our Twitter communities across the world. We are cutting out the middlemen and the pharmaceutical companies.

“There is no wristband, no rock concert and no money. Everybody has been touched by cancer. This campaign is about people around the world coming together to try to beat it, in a different way. We want people to donate direct to the research project in Sweden, through Twitter.

“Steve Jobs would not have given up. He would have found a way round the problem. That’s what we’re doing.”

They need £2m to conduct research on the genetically engineered common cold virus, which is in cold storage at a laboratory in Sweden.

The virus was created by Professor Magnus Essand at Uppsala University. He genetically redesigned the adenovirus so that it only targets net tumours, leaving healthy cells unharmed. Prof Essand has estimated that £2m will be enough to develop the virus to the point where a pharmaceutical company can conduct trials and bring it to market.

Nets expert Professor Alan Melcher, from the University of Leeds, said: “This virus has the potential to prolong the quality of life for sufferers.”

Nets can appear in many parts of the body including the digestive tract, pancreas and lung, and are often missed or misdiagnosed.

People can donate via the Twitter feed @iCancerVirus, the Facebook page www.facebook.com/icancervirus, and the website www.iCancer.org.uk.