Researchers in Canada are working on a new way to treat prostate cancer using a virus.
In the study, researchers administered the virus to six volunteer patients and found that it killed off cancer cells while sparing normal tissue.
According to the study, the respiratory, enteric, orphan virus (commonly known as reovirus) is a non-attenuated, environmental virus that has shown oncolytic potential against many types of cancer, specifically lymphoid, ovarian, breast, pancreatic and high-grade glioma cancer.
People exposed to it suffer, at most, mild flu-like respiratory symptoms or diarrhoea.
This is the first time the virus has been studied against prostate cancer.
"The reovirus is a very common, ubiquitous virus that most people are exposed to. As far as we know, it doesn't cause any significant illness in humans, even though when someone is exposed to it, it manifests, at most, as a mild respiratory infection or mild diarrhea," said researcher Don Morris, medical oncologist in the Department of Oncology at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Alberta, Canada.
"For the treatment of localized prostate cancer, we found that the reovirus is safe and has evidence of specific tumour vs. normal prostate cell efficacy.
"Our results are a stepping stone into future prostate cancer clinical trials with another category of cancer therapeutics," he added.
The study has been published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.