The idea of using harmful diseases to instead help heal is not relatively new but it has been quite helpful in the time that it has been around. Vaccines are prime examples of using dead diseases to help boost immunity and protect.
There aren’t any actual successful treatments using viruses or bacteria to fight other diseases, except for the use of herpes to combat melanoma. Although that is the only approved treatment, at least.
Scientists and a team from Duke University say that they may have a way to fight brain cancer with the poliovirus. This was tested among 61 patients that had glioblastoma, and among people that would not have taken the treatment; about 4% would have survived. But with the treatment that the University has performed, that percent went up to a whopping 21%.
Dr. Matthias Gromeier of Duke, has created a way to make the poliovirus cause the immune system to activate and at the same time not contract polio. About the poliovirus, it affects the intestines and travels into the spine ruining the motor nerves; thus explaining the paralysis.
Gromeier was successful for a bit when the engineered poliovirus apparently “aggravated” other immune cells to trigger an assault on the cancer cells. It only lasts for so long, but it also can be an issue for such an aggressive approach because it can cause major inflammation and so scientists have to apply smaller doses and slow down. They put the virus directly into the tumors to find the best amount to agree on.
The size of the fight in the new poliovirus isn’t very big though. Because of its specific job it only does its job and doesn’t continue because there is no “program” to keep it killing the cancer. They plan to combine such treatment with the release of the immune system to let it attack the cells without restriction, reason being is that the body doesn’t see the cells as foreign cells, but as its own. This will take the leash off the immune system to catch the tumors and kill them regardless of foreign cells or not.
About 8 of the 61 patients have been showing promise within the therapy, mainly showing signs of surviving longer rather than taking other forms of treatment. Although, some of the patients have responded greatly to the other treatments such as chemotherapy, as their tumors “fell apart” says Bigner. Now they plan to make trials of a group that only uses the poliovirus and another with the virus along with chemotherapy.
Further ideas of catching the cancer in the earlier stages so that the patients immune system is stronger and works a little faster. It may lead to a more progressive result and possibly a more firm foundation to base off of.