The Hunt For Cures: Cancer

Smart Bombs For Targeting Deadly Tumors

Frank McCormick was flying home from a meeting on cancer genetics when a wild idea popped into his head. What if you could make a virus that would infect--and kill--cancer cells but leave healthy cells intact? The next day, McCormick excitedly explained his notion to colleagues at Onyx Pharmaceuticals in Richmond, Calif., a biotech company he had founded earlier that year. Some of them were as enthusiastic as he was. Others told him he was crazy; such a treatment couldn't possibly work.

Nine years later, McCormick, now director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco,...

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