Sunday, December 28, 2014

Arming anti-cancer virus with immunity protein boosts effectiveness

CANCER DIGEST – Dec. 28, 2014 – A new anti-cancer virus combined with an immune system protein is showing promise as a treatment for pancreatic cancer, a new study shows.

The study done in mice engineered to have form of pancreatic cancer similar to humans uses the relatively new treatment approach, called oncolytic viral therapy, and combines it with the long studied immunotherapy in an effort to make the cancer treatment last longer. 

The scientists at Barts Cancer Institute, Queen Mary University of London, are trying to find ways to hide the anti-cancer virus from the immune system in order to allow it to get to the tumors and kill the cancer cells. In a study they published this week in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, they showed that combining the virus with the protein IL-10 blunted the immune response and increased the anti-cancer effect. 

The results showed that after six weeks, 87.5 percent of all the mice treated with the combination approach were completely clear of tumors compared with 42.8 percent of those treated with viral vaccine alone. 

Four weeks after being completely clear of primary tumors, the researchers re-introduced pancreatic cancer cells into the mice with no further doses of either the armed or unarmed virus.  The cancer cells grew again in both groups, but after 32 days all animals except one were once again completely clear of cancer. 

Oncolytic viruses are modified to selectively infect and kill cancer cells, as promising as that approach was in laboratory and animal studies, it has not been as effective, as is often the case, in human trials due to the immune response to the viruses, which attacks them.

The researchers concluded that while much more research is needed, these early results show there’s some potential here for pancreatic cancer, a cancer for which effective treatments have long been among the most difficult to find. 

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