Here’s a piece of good news out of the science community. The Mayo Clinic, in what they are dubbing a landmark trial, cleared a woman’s incurable blood cancer last year. Doctors used virotherapy to effectively wipe out the cancer cells in the woman’s blood. Using a synthesized measles virus into a single IV dose – making it highly toxic to the cancer cells.
Just how much measles virus are we talking about? Well if you put it into the normal inoculation vaccine, it would be enough to vaccinate 10 million people. Stacy Erholtz, a sufferer of multiple myeloma, was one of two patients to receive the therapy in the clinical trial.
The science behind the treatment is interesting. Using high doses of the measles vaccine in immunocompromised patients allows the virus to attack the cancer cells before the immune system can react to the measles virus. Both patients were selected due to other treatment options be exhausted. The other patient went into remission for nine months before the cancer returned. Stacy went into full remission.
Mayo Clinic researchers are hopeful that they can one day turn this therapy into a one-shot cure. Steven Russell, a Mayo Clinic hematologist was lead on the study. He said it had been trialed in mice, but never in humans. “It’s like a call to action. It’s not just good for our virus. It’s good for every virus everybody’s developing as a cancer therapy. We know this can happen,” said Russell.
Multiple myeloma is not the only cancer being targeted by the Mayo Clinic using the measles virotherapy. Tests are ongoing to see if the same therapy can be used to tackle brain, ovarian, head and neck cancers. The multiple myeloma therapy is moving forward with more human trials with hopes of FDA approval in four years.
Stacy, for her part, was ecstatic with the outcome. Speaking to KARE, she relayed her thoughts on the therapy. “My mindset was I didn’t have any other options available, so why wouldn’t I do it? I had to have failed all conventional treatment to do that trial. That actually happened last March. It was the easiest treatment by far with very few side effects. I hope it’s the future of treating cancer infusion.”
Here’s hoping her cancer stays in full remission when she goes in for her June check-up. And I think we all can root for this breakthrough in cancer treatment to hit the mainstream. If you are a cancer patient and are interested in Mayo’s clinical trials, please head over to their site.
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