In spite of the various infections directly linked to viruses, different groups of scientists have been able to reprogram them to improve human health. This new research industry is known as oncolytic virotherapy. Lots of major institutions are reportedly investing their time and research resources into manipulating viruses for the treatment of various medical conditions.
“Oncolytic virotherapy is an emerging treatment, with major institutions investing research and time into fine-tuning this therapy.” US News reported.
Texas Scientists Treat Glioblastoma Multiforme With Virus
Scientists at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in the University of Texas, in 2015 were able to genetically modify adenovirus to treat Glioblastoma Multiforme.
Adenovirus is a virus that can cause common cold while Glioblastoma Multiforme (also known as Glioblastoma) according to Healthline is an aggressive brain tumor. It is regarded as the most common and most lethal among the tumors of the brain. The National Brain Tumor Society estimated it to account for 12 to 15 percent of all diagnosed tumors.
According to the US News report, “Malignant gliomas are both the most common and most lethal type of central nervous system tumors, with glioblastoma being the most aggressive subtype.”
The researchers considered the need for a different treatment method because there is currently no definitive treatment standard for the condition.
“The current standard of care involves a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, but even with this treatment these tumors remain incredibly fatal, and after second-line therapy, there is currently no standard of care.”
Another notable study of this kind was conducted by Duke University. The researchers used an oncolytic virus to treat Glioblastoma Multiforme. The used poliovirus does not include the part that can cause viral disease.
“The adapted virus, without the part that causes the viral disease, penetrates the cancer cells and spark an immune response to attack the cancer cells.”
When the effectiveness of the therapy was analyzed in patients after 24 months, 21 percent of them survived unlike the 4 percent survival rate expected of the general population.
Common Cold Virus Is Used to Treat Cancer
A study using 15 bladder cancer patients in the University of Surrey in England were administered coxsackievirus, a common cold virus, a week before their scheduled surgery. When the tumor samples were collected after the surgery, the result indicates some of the cancer cells are already killed by the virus without presenting any side effects.
Mayo Clinic was also reported to have used a large dose of measles virus to treat multiple myeloma in patients who failed to improve after multiple lines of conventional therapy.
The research and use of oncolytic viruses are gaining waves. Some of these therapies are already approved by the FDA such as the herpes virus Talimogene Laherparepvec (TVEC) to treat melanoma. Others are still in investigational stages.