Virus Used To Hunt And Infect Cancer Cells

4:34am UK, Thursday September 01, 2011

Thomas Moore, health correspondent, Sky News

 

 

A virus that hunts down and treats cancer has been used in patients for the first time, with encouraging results.

Canadian doctors found an intravenous injection allowed the virus to spread through the bloodstream and infect tumour cells anywhere in the body.

Healthy tissue was unharmed.

The ground-breaking trial was intended to test only safety. 

But in six of the eight patients given the highest doses, the tumours shrank or stopped growing.

Professor John Bell, of The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, said: "We are very excited because this is the first time in medical history that a viral therapy has been shown to consistently and selectively replicate in cancer tissue."

The JX-594 virus was derived from a strain used in the smallpox vaccine. It was engineered to enhance its anti-cancer properties.

The 23 patients in the trial had a range of advanced cancers that had stopped responding to existing treatments.

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