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Twitter bid to beat Jobs cancer
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. They need £2 million to conduct research on the genetically engineered common cold virus, which is in cold storage at a laboratory in Sweden.
The iCancer campaign is seeking a small 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 appealing direct to the people. 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."
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 £2 million will be enough to develop the virus to the point where a pharmaceutical company can conduct trials and bring it to market. Nets sufferer and co-campaigner, journalist Dominic Nutt, said: "There is a groundswell of support for the iCancer campaign. I know this from the response I have had already.
"I wrote a piece about the Swedish virus for a UK newspaper. I sent out one tweet and it went global, reaching almost a million people on Twitter in a day, all of them wanting to help."
Nets can appear in many parts of the body including the digestive tract, pancreas and lung, and are often missed or misdiagnosed. The tumours are known as silent killers because most produce no symptoms until the disease is critically advanced. Incidence of the disease is increasing, with the number of cases diagnosed rising five-fold in the last 35 years.
People can donate via the Twitter feed @iCancerVirus, the Facebook page www.facebook.com/icancervirus, and the website www.iCancer.org.uk, and retweet using the hashtag #iCancer.