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Manufactured Virus Could “Truly Tranform” Cancer Therapies

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Researchers have manufactured a virus that can identify and attack cancer cells in what they claim is a medical innovation

Writing in the Nature journal, researchers suggest that in the 23 patients trialled the virus targeted only cancerous tumours, ignoring healthy tissues.

The virus, JX-594, has to be injected around the tumour to avoid the immune system. The 23 patients, who had cancers that further spread to other parts of the body, had the virus injected into their blood stream.
Of the 8 patients that had the largest dose, the virus had replicated in the tumours of seven, but had avoided healthy tissues.

However, although the virus prevented the tumours from further growth for a length of time, it did not cure the cancer. Researchers suggest this could be because patients were only given one dose of the virus until it’s safety is proven.

Experts predict that these findings could “truly transform” therapies.

Talking about the findings, Professor John Bell, researcher at the University of Ottawa 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.”

A spokesman for cancer research added, “Viruses that multiply in just tumour cells – avoiding healthy cells – are showing real promise as a new biological approach to target hard-to-treat cancers.

“It is particularly encouraging that responses were seen even in tumours like mesothelioma, a cancer which can be particularly hard to treat.”

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