According to a new study, a strain of the common cold virus that was used to treat patients with a type of bladder cancer has been found effective at removing the tumor in one patient.
The study published in Clinical Cancer Research and conducted by researchers at the University of Surrey, UK, found that fifteen patients who were treated with a common cold virus known as coxsackievirus (CVA21) had some promising results.
The researchers looked at a particular type of cancer called non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, which affects more than 40,000 Americans every year, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Current treatments to this type of cancer are extremely invasive, which come with significant adverse effects.
Lead investigator of the study and Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Surrey, Dr. Hardev Pandha, said, “Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is a highly prevalent illness that requires an intrusive and often lengthy treatment plan. Current treatment is ineffective and toxic in a proportion of patients and there is an urgent need for new therapies.”
The study participants received CVA21 directly into their bladders through catheter one week before surgery.
Upon examining the tissue after surgery, the researchers found that coxsackievirus only affected the cancer cells, leaving healthy tissue alone. In addition, urine samples indicated that the virus continued to proliferate and attack more cancer cells. And in one patient, they found there was no trace of cancer at all.
Dr. Pandha said, “Coxsackievirus could help revolutionize treatment for this type of cancer. Reduction of tumor burden and increased cancer cell death was observed in all patients and removed all trace of the disease in one patient following just one week of treatment, showing its potential effectiveness.”
One of the promising aspects of the study was that patients did not experience any severe complexity or toxicity from the viral treatment. The researchers explained, “Long-term follow up of patients treated with the virus is definitely needed as well as validation in a larger trial.” Dr. Nicola Annels, Research Fellow at the University of Surrey and first author of the study, said, “Traditionally, viruses have been associated with illness however in the right situation they can improve our overall health and wellbeing by destroying cancerous cells. Oncolytic viruses such as the coxsackievirus could transform the way we treat cancer and could signal a move away from more established treatments such as chemotherapy.”