At Duke University they have implemented an experimental program using a new approach in the battle of cancer. Research has found that mixtures of the polio virus have profitably been used to treat patients with inoperable brain tumors.
Doctors and researchers are working diligently but still are hesitant to call it a “cancer cure’” just yet. The early progress of the creative efforts is viewed as the next best thing. With surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, if clinical trials of this technique remain successful, we could be seeing a new way to treat big bad cancer.
Matthias Gromeier, One of the top researchers carrying out this new anti-cancer research at the Preston Rovert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University states, “The idea of targeting cancer with viruses has been around for at least 100 years”.
This polio virus project at Duke is picking up in popularity and is gaining nationwide attention after they dedicated a “60 Minutes” report on it. The project entails injecting a genetically engineered poliovirus into deadly brain tumors. Early research and results has been used on humans and primates patients has found the polio virus focuses in on cancer cells and kills them, so far without damaging healthy tissue.
Dr. Matthias Gromeier goes further in depth and says that the Duke team actually disbands the virus through genetic manipulation, so in result injecting the polio virus cannot cause polio. While still being able to target, infect and kill certain cells, in particular brain tumor cells.
Dr. Gromeier quotes, “Dr. Gromeier explains that the resulting PVS-RIPO virus “naturally infects [and] kills cancer cells, but not normal cells, because its ability to grow (and kill) depends on biochemical abnormalities only present in cancer cells.”
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the PVS-RIPO treatment is geared specifically for a form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. It is the same cancer that killed Senator Ted Kennedy in 2009. Glioblastoma kills an estimate off 12,000 Americans per year and almost 60% die within the first 2 years of being diagnosed.
Duke’s research is still in its early stages still in its phase one clinical trials. According to the scientists at Duke, since 2012 5 patients have been treated with this technique. One of the original patients in the trial died in 6 months after receiving the PVS-RIPO infusion. On a brighter side none of the other patients have shown any deadly side effects, which implies that the polio virus treatment is safe.
New and innovative genetic engineering techniques have matured in the last 2 decades have given scientists the ability to repair viruses to target cancer cells. Multiple biotech companies and research institutions are testing and experimenting with genetically engineered viruses to target and kill cancer cells.