Poliovirus Used in Cancer Treatment

Duke University scientists might have found a cure for cancer – the deadly poliovirus.

A group of scientists from a brain tumor center at North Carolina’s Duke University were the lead group in a trial of small number of patients with cancer that were followed for 10 months by the CBS new show 60 Minutes.

Molecular biologist Dr. Matthias Gromeier has been researching this idea at Duke for almost 15 years. He first was involved with his studies, then trials using animals and now tests on humans.

During the trials using humans, 11 of 22 participants lost their lives to the tumors. However, in two of the patients that had brain tumors, doctors detected no signs of any cancer three years after the start of the experimental treatment.

Stephanie Lipscomb one of the patients was 20 when she started the experimental treatment. Three years ago, doctors injected a genetically modified poliovirus into the tumor. Now, no active cancer exists. It took just one dose for Lipscomb to be cancer free. She said before the experiment that she did not believe she would live any longer than two years.

Gromeier explained that modified virus could remove the shield put up by human cancers against the body’s immune system. This in turn gives the immune system a chance to fight back.

The poliovirus was modified by adding rhinovirus genetic information. The rhinovirus is a cause of the everyday common cold.

The CBS news show reported that it appears the poliovirus starts to kill the tumor and then it allows the body’s immune system to take care of eliminating the rest.

However, despite a positive beginning, those that were involved in this treatment and research insist this is just in its infancy.

Polio is an infectious, life-threatening disease that can leave victims paralyzed. It has been nearly eradicated after the development of and the widespread use of a polio vaccine during the 1950s.

The trial’s full report will be released some time during this week said researchers.

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