Redeeming Role for a Common Virus: Ability to Kill Cancer

ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2010) — A common virus that can cause coughing and mild diarrhea appears to have a major redemptive quality: the ability to kill cancer. Harnessing that power, researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center, are conducting a clinical trial to see if the virus can target and kill certain tumor types.

By the age of five, most people have been exposed to the virus, called reovirus. For some, it can trigger brief episodes of coughing or diarrhea while many other don’t develop any symptoms. The body simply overpowers the virus. But what scientists have discovered is that the virus grows like gangbusters inside tumor cells with a specific malfunction that leads to tumor growth. That finding led researchers to ask: Is it possible to use the virus as a treatment?

At Lombardi, researchers are collaborating with other institutions to look for an answer by conducting a phase II clinical trial for people with advanced or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer with a specific tumor profile.

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