Measles virus to treat cancer?

New York, May 18 (IANS): Viruses are known to cause diseases. But can they also cure a life-threatening one? Yes, measles virus can potentially be used to cure cancer, a promising research reveals.

A high dose 'blast' of a specially engineered version of the measles virus was found to cure cancer in a 49-year-old woman during a principle clinical trial.

Researchers say the result demonstrated that virotherapy, destroying cancer with a virus that infects and kills cancer cells but spares normal tissues, can be effective against the deadly cancer multiple myeloma.

“It is a very simple concept. Viruses naturally come into the body and they destroy tissue,” said lead author Stephen Russel from Mayo Clinic Molecular Medicine.

“Two patients underwent the treatment and both responded, showing reduction of both bone marrow cancer and myeloma protein,” said researchers from Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic.

The patients received a single intravenous dose of an engineered measles virus (MV-NIS) that is selectively toxic to myeloma plasma cells.

One patient, 49-year-old Stacy Erholtz, experienced complete remission of myeloma and has been clear of the disease for over six months, the study maintained.

The study provides the first well-documented case of a patient with disseminated cancer having a complete remission at all disease sites after virus administration.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow which also causes skeletal or soft tissue tumours.

This cancer usually responds to immune system-stimulating drugs but eventually overcomes them and is rarely cured.

The findings were published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.


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