A study lead by a scientist of Indian origin discovered that a common virus, which can cause coughing and mild diarrhoea, has an ability to kill cancer.
The scientists have found that the virus, called reovirus, grows like gangbusters inside tumor cells with a specific malfunction that leads to tumor growth and the findind led them to ponder over weather this virus can be used as a treatment.
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 and are now planning a phase II clinical trial for people with advanced or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer with a specific tumor profile.
"With reovirus, we're able to accentuate the positive and attenuate the negative. What's left is a virus in search of a host, and reovirus loves the environment inside a specific kind of cancer cell," said Deepa Subramaniam, the study's lead investigator at Lombardi.
That specific kind of cancer cell is one with malfunctioning machinery called KRAS or EGFR mutation.
"These mutations leave the cancer vulnerable to a viral take-over. Once it's in, the reovirus exploits the cell's machinery to drive its own replication. As a result, the cell is filled with virus particles causing it to literally explode," she added.
Volunteers in the clinical trial will receive reovirus (REOLYSIN(r)) in addition to paclitaxel and carboplatin. The physicians will watch to see if the cancer shrinks while also seeing if this combination of drugs causes serious side effects.
"This is a subset of cancer where we haven't had many successes in terms of finding drugs that extend life after diagnosis. This trial represents an attempt to seek and destroy cancer by choosing a treatment based on specific tumor characteristics. Preliminary data from the study should come quickly, Subramaniam concluded.