Genetically engineered virus kills tumor cells – alone!

Researchers have shown for the first time that a single intravenous infusion of a genetically engineered virus can home in on cancer, killing tumor cells in patients without harming healthy tissue.

Scientists have been intrigued for decades with the idea of using viruses to alert the immune system to seek and destroy cancerous cells. That interest has taken off in recent years as advances in genetic engineering allow them to customize viruses that target tumors…

In a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, scientists at institutions including the University of Ottawa and privately held biotech company Jennerex said a small, early-stage trial of experimental viral therapy JX-594 found that it consistently infected tumors with only minimal and temporary side effects.

The experimental virus will next be tested in a mid-stage trial of patients with liver cancer.

With chemotherapy you get drastic side effects,” said Dr. John Bell, chief scientific officer at Jennerex and senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. “Patients on this treatment only had 24-hour flu symptoms, and nothing after that.”

The trial, which involved 23 patients with various types of advanced cancer, was designed to assess the safety of JX-594. It also found that six of the eight patients given the two highest doses saw their tumors stabilize or shrink…

He also said that because the Jennerex virus can be given intravenously, spreading throughout the body, it may hold promise for limiting the ability of cancer cells to metastasize and spread.

Bravo. Especially in the dramatic reduction of side effects.