A new study on bladder cancer has produced unique results about how to kill malignant cells. The study suggests that there is a strain of the common cold virus that can kill cancer cells in the bladder. One patient in the study saw their cancer disappear completely, and more than a dozen others saw at least some of their cancer cells die.
The researchers from the study, a group from the University of Surrey, said they think these results could bring in a whole new era of cancer treatment. They are also hopeful that their findings can lead to less reoccurrences of cancer as well.
A charity that funds bladder cancer research and treatment said the results are exciting, but they would like to see a larger study confirm the findings.
Why it Matters
Bladder cancer is in the top 10 most common cancers in England, with 10,000 new cases every year. The way it is treated now is often painful or has serious side effects for the patient. There is also a high risk of reoccurrence, which means patients must be constantly monitored after beating the disease.
How the Study Worked
This study was conducted on fifteen patients who had bladder cancer. One week before surgery, the patients were given coxsackievirus (CVA21), which is sometimes used in cancer treatment. After the surgery, there was evidence that CVA21 killed some of the cancer cells. Once the cancer cells had died, CVA21 actually left those cells and went looking for other harmful cancer cells. It also did not harm any normal, healthy cells.
Professor Hardev Pandha from the University of Surrey says that CVA21 is one of the best developments in cancer treatment. He says it works by getting inside the bad cells and turning a protein “on” that tells other immune cells to attack the cancer. In this study, there were no side effects found.
Typically, cancers of the bladder are difficult to cure because there are not any immune cells attracted to them. But CVA21 solves that problem by calling the immune cells to the cancer site. Pandha said that this is the first time that it has been used to fight bladder cancer, but other trials have used it to fight skin cancer.
Pandha said there were cancer cell deaths in all the patients and tumors began to shrink. The patient who saw his whole tumor killed was cancer free within one week.
The next plan is to use the common cold virus in combination with a therapy called a checkpoint inhibitor. Another researcher at the University of Surrey, Nicola Annels, said CVA21 could be the first move away from traditional therapies such as chemotherapy. Due to how often it recurs, bladder cancer costs the UK healthcare system more money than any other cancer. If this treatment can be confirmed by larger studies, it could bring in new treatments for bladder cancer patients. Most scientists are eager to see how this treatment reacts with other immunotherapies.