Clinical Trials Test Virus Against Cancer

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Ed Yeates. Reporting A virus is not always bad, especially if you can get it to kill something inside your body that eventually might kill you.

The FDA has approved clinical trials to see if just such an unusual attack will work against cancer!

At Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute, researchers are already using modified toxin from the deadly diphtheria bacteria to target and kill brain tumors. It's an experiment to see if nature's own, converted from bad to good - can actually save lives instead of take them.

Now it appears two different clinical trials are about to begin in another part of the country testing yet another unexpected intruder.

Is it possible a common virus we all get out in the environment could be directed to infect and kill only cancer cells? In fact, kill not only the original tumor cell it infects - but when that cell dies, baby viruses escape, and go after other cancer cells as well.

Dr. Brad Thompson, Oncolytics Biotech: "What you'll get is anywhere from ten to fifteen thousand progeny viruses or baby viruses coming out of every cancer cell you infect. And so you get this cycle of infection, cell death, new virus spreading through a tumor"

Dr. Brad Thompson describes it like the rings in a tree, moving out and encircling the tumor.

The Reovirus has already been through some early clinical trials in Canada and Europe. Now it's our turn as researchers here watch with keen interest - but tempered with some healthy skepticism.

Will this virus really seek out a mutated pathway found only in some cancer cells - killing them - while leaving normal cells unharmed?

Dr. Brad Thompson, Oncolytics Biotech: "A normal cell has its normal antiviral mechanisms intact and it will just get rid of the virus in a few hours."

In experiments so far, Thompson claims those infected described only a mild side effect - like coming down with a cold.

Medical Centers, in Alabama and New York State ... will conduct the first two clinical trials, in this country. They'll inject the virus systematically for things like liver and pancreatic cancers, and directly into the brain for brain tumors.

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