There is no cure for the common cold, but for cancer patients, that may be a good thing. In a new study in Science Translational Medicine, researchers from Leeds University and the Institute of Cancer Research in the UK describe a method that uses the common cold virus to kill tumors and trigger an anti-cancer immune response in patients, reports Reuters' Kate Kelland. The team conducted the study on 10 patients with advanced bowel cancer with liver metastases who were due to have surgery. They gave the patients up to five doses of an experimental reovirus vaccine therapy and later confirmed in tissue samples that the virus had targeted and become active in the cancerous tissue while leaving normal liver tissue alone, Kelland says. Not only did the virus attack cancer cells, it also caused the body's immune system to kill off any remaining cancer cells.
"By hitching a ride on blood cells, the virus was protected from antibodies in the blood stream that might otherwise neutralize its cancer-fighting abilities," she adds. "The findings suggest viral therapies like this, called reovirus, could be injected into the blood stream at routine outpatient appointments — like standard chemotherapy — making them potentially suitable for treating a range of cancers."