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Virus therapy for cancer

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We came across a fascinating article titled Virus Therapy for Cancer in the November 2014 issue of Scientific American that speaks about specially engineered viruses that could potentially infect and destroy human cancers without appreciably harming healthy tissues.

You can find a direct link here.

Excerpts:

  • Once inside a tumor, such oncolytic viruses replicate extensively, yielding an army of virus clones able to seek out and infect more of the cancer cells… It can be a powerful killing machine.
  • Nearly a dozen viruses are being tested in humans as stand-alone therapies or in combination with existing treatments ; several are in late-stage clinical evaluation.
  • Early on researchers attempted to suppress the immune system, to give the viruses tie to act on the cancer cells before they were attached as foreign. In an about-face, they are now engineering viruses to reawaken the immune system to fight the tumor.
  • One oncolytic virus was approved in China for head and neck cancer in 2005, and nearly a dozen are now in various stages of human testing in a wide variety of cancers.
  • In 2013, they found that 11 percent of patients in a large trial for virotherapy against advanced metastatic melanoma had a complete response, i.e. they showed no sign of the cancer.

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