Virotherapy to treat a deadly cancer

Deadly cancer

A positive answer to patients with multiple myeloma which is an incurable blood cancer that attacks the bone marrow, may have been found by experts and researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN who did a small clinical trial and found that through virotherapy using the measles virus they could make it be selectively toxic and kill the cancer cells. Their report showed excellent results from the virotherapy to treat a deadly cancer such as multiple myeloma.

As documented in the journal “Mayo Clinic Proceedings”, the oncolytic virotherapy conducted on two cancer patients that had been treated before on other therapies with unsuccessful results, demonstrated that the measles virus eliminated the cancer cells. This specialized therapy uses engineered viruses to help fight cancer cells and the method is via vaccine shots of large amounts of virus cells.

One of the volunteer patients, Stacy Erholtz had been struggling with multiple myeloma for the past 10 years and after the clinical trial has been free of cancer for a little over 6 months. On June last year, Stacy was part of an experimental procedure and was injected a dose that would be enough to vaccinate 10 million people, a first in a human after large numbers of trials in lab rats and mice. According to Dr. Stephen Russell, MD, PhD, first author of the report and co-developer of the therapy said, “We have known for some time that viruses can work as a vaccine, and if you inject a virus into a tumor you could provoke the immune system to come and destroy that cancer and other cancers”

Dr. John Bell from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute said “by combining the right virus with the right cancer, we are getting these sorts of stellar responses and that is where the field has to go, we have to figure out which viruses go with what kinds of cancers and in which people they would work best”.

The research was done in 5 other people with unsuccessful results, however the Mayo Clinic intends to do a larger clinical trial in a larger amount of patients later this year. With the report they are not saying that a single shot of measles virus can cure cancer, although they are enthusiastic with these initial results, with virotherapy to treat a deadly cancer in a onetime dose that could be long term remission of the cancer.