Common cold virus could cure cancer

The research suggests the common cold could be harnessed to cure cancer

Credit
Getty

The research suggests the common cold could be harnessed to cure cancer Credit Getty

Researchers have discovered that a strain of the common cold virus could be lethal to cancer cells in patients with bladder cancer.

Allen Knight, chairman of Action Bladder Cancer UK, said: "If the safety, tolerability, and efficacy data can be confirmed in larger clinical studies and trials, then it could herald a new era in the treatment for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients, like me, who often feel that innovations in cancer therapies pass us by".

Bladder cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in men with over 61, 000 new cases and around 13,000 deaths reported this year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

It can also be ineffective and toxic in a number of patients, and "there is an urgent need" for new treatments, Pandha said.

Current treatments for this cancer are problematic.

Transurethral resection, an invasive procedure that removes all visible lesions, has a high chance of disease recurrence, with rates ranging from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. The immunotherapy treatment Bacille Calmette-Guerin has also been found to have serious side effects with one third of patients not responding to the treatment at all.

"The virus gets inside cancer cells and kills them by triggering an immune protein and that leads to signaling of other immune cells to come and join the party", said Hardev Pandha, principal investigator of the study and professor of medical oncology at the University of Surrey.

When tissue samples were examined after surgery, scientists could see that only the cancerous cells had been targeted - with other cells left intact. Urine samples after treatment detected shedding from the virus indicating once virally infected cancer cells died the replicated virus continued to attack more cancerous cells.

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In every case, cancer cells had been destroyed - and in one case, all traces of the disease had gone, the study found.

Normally, bladder tumors don't have immune cells so the body's immune system doesn't attack the cancer. Evidence suggests that the cold virus inflames the tumor, causing immune cells - cells from a patient's own immune system - to "rush into the cancer environment", target and kill the cancerous cells.

The majority of the patients' tumors were found to have cell death, and in one patient, there was no trace of the cancer found during surgery after just one week of treatment.

And constant, costly monitoring is needed to check that the cancer has not returned after treatment.

University of Surrey researchers said the virus could "help revolutionise treatment" for the cancer and reduce the risk of it recurring.

Reference: Nicola E Annels, et al.

This article has been republished from the following materials.

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