News / Health

Measles Virus Proves Deadly Against Cancer

Stacy Erholtz receives a test to confirm she's in remission from myeloma after receiving a novel virotherapy in this screenshot from a Mayo Clinic video.
Stacy Erholtz receives a test to confirm she's in remission from myeloma after receiving a novel virotherapy in this screenshot from a Mayo Clinic video.

Related Articles

Video Could Existing Drugs Be Used to Treat Deadly MERS Virus?

In lab studies, drugs against cancer, neurological disorders and other ailments show promise to help treat respiratory ailment

New Treatment Regenerates Muscle Lost in Traumatic Injury

Researchers say implanting material from a pig's bladder at the wound site enticed the patient's own stem cells to become muscle cells and regenerate tissue that had been lost
A new study has, for the first time, demonstrated that a specific kind of virotherapy can infect and kill cancer in humans, leaving healthy cells unharmed.
 
The study, conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, involved just two patients, both of whom received a “single intravenous dose of an engineered measles virus (MV-NIS) that is selectively toxic to myeloma plasma cells," researchers said.
 
Multiple myeloma affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow and causes skeletal or soft tissue tumors. It is rarely cured.
 
The therapy brought about a complete remission in one of the patients, while only improving the second patient.
 
“This is the first study to establish the feasibility of systemic oncolytic virotherapy for disseminated cancer,” said Dr. Stephen Russell, a Mayo Clinic hematologist, and first author of the paper and co-developer of the therapy in a statement. “These patients were not responsive to other therapies and had experienced several recurrences of their disease.”
 
In an interview with VOA, Russell called viruses “the last untapped bioresource as destructive bioagents against cancer.”
 
The two patients in the trial were given enough measles virus to vaccinate 100 million people. In a video about the treatment, Mayo doctors say the modified measles virus makes cancer cells join together and “essentially explode.”
 
The therapy also may boost the patient’s immune system, allowing it to “mop up” any remaining cancer, they said.
 
Using re-engineered viruses to fight cancer, also known as oncolytic virotherapy, is nothing new, dating back to the 1950s, according to the Mayo Clinic. But, according to researches, this study provides the “first well documented case of a patient with disseminated cancer having a complete remission at all disease sites after virus administration.”
 
Good results with this kind of therapy have been seen with rodents, but this is the first time success has been reported in a human being. However, remission was only achieved in one of the two patients.

Mixed results for patients
 
The other patient did not respond as well. Nonetheless, by using a sophisticated imaging technique, doctors were able to tell that the virus had targeted cancerous cells.
 
Russell said he and his colleagues found the difference in reaction between the two patients “puzzling,” but had some theories about why.
 
He said the patient who’d gone into remission had less myeloma in her body and that the second patient’s cancer was in a “very advanced state” with “massive tumors in the legs and abdomen.”
 
Another theory was that the second patient had more tumors in the muscles.
 
“If we’d treated her earlier, we’d have done better, Russell said, adding that they might also have seen better results at a higher dose.
 
There were negative side effects, he said, such as severe flu-like symptoms almost immediately upon dosing. Despite that, one patient called the side effects “trivial,” compared to other treatments they’d received, according to Russell.
 
William Phelps, Director of the Preclinical and Translational Cancer Research Program at the American Cancer Society, said the study is exciting because it shows efficacy with humans.
 
“Viruses are very good at disseminating throughout the body,” he said, adding that they’re also adept at hunting, detecting and infecting metastatic tumors.
 
Another advantage of using viruses is that they’re mutable, said Phelps.
 
“We can make a lot of changes to change what cells they infect,” he said. “We can change their payloads to specifically kill cancer.”
 
According to an editorial accompanying the paper, Dr. John C. Bell of the Centre for Innovative Cancer Research in Ottawa, Canada, described the findings as a “benchmark to strive for and improve upon.”
 
When asked if the study had implications for other types of cancer, Russell answered with an emphatic yes.
 
“There’s no real reason why it can’t work on other cancers,” said Bell, adding that cancer provides the “perfect substrate” for viruses because they’re metabolically active, fast growing and, “don’t know how to turn off.
 
“Once the virus gets in there, it can just move,” he said. “There are a lot of reasons they’re happier growing in cancer.”
 
More trials are planned.
 
“We want to take this virus and test it much more efficiently in a larger group to determine how often it works,” said Russell.
 
According to the Mayo Clinic, more of the MV-NIS therapy is being manufactured for a larger, phase 2 clinical trial later this year.
 
Phelps said his one concern about the study was that the two patients did not have any antibodies for measles, making them very rare because most people have been vaccinated against or had the measles.
 
One possible next step is “trying to engineer the virus so that it wouldn’t be neutralized by your antibodies," said Phelps. “Intuitively, you should be able to do that."
 
Russell believes that what this study has proved is valuable and can be built upon.
 
“We recently have begun to think about the idea of a single shot cure for cancer, and that’s our goal with this therapy,” he said.

The findings appear in the peer-reviewed journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Here's a video about the treatment:
 

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MOD from: china
May 18, 2014 8:21 AM
Hope it's useful and THX~!

by: Dr. Livkin from: UK
May 17, 2014 9:01 PM
However, there is POISON in the flu vaccine=MERCURY, a deadly neurotoxin that is NOT to be introduced into the human body unless of course, you want to invite cognitive disorders and cancer. FACTS AND RESEARCH WILL DICTATE THAT.

by: kanapathy pillai yogaraaj from: srilanka
May 17, 2014 5:05 AM
we support civilrights-Like

by: jom from: china
May 16, 2014 3:31 PM
Thank you for this hopeful article

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs