Strain of common cold virus can help cure bladder cancer

Henrietta Strickland
July 5, 2019

All signs of the disease disappeared in one patient, and in 14 others there was evidence that cancer cells had died. They believe that this virus may help in revolutionizing cancer treatment.

As well as reducing the size of all the tumours, the treatment, via a catheter to the bladder, had no significant side-effects in any of the patients, researchers said.

Non-muscle invasive bladder is the 10th most common cancer in the United Kingdom, with around 10,000 new cases each year.

Scientists said they hoped the treatment could be available in as little as three years, bringing hope to thousands of patients with diseases that are now hard-to-treat. "'Hot" tumours in this way are more likely to be rejected by the immune system.

A strain of the common cold virus could help infect and kill bladder cancer cells, a small study suggests.

Scientists said once the virus targeted the cancer, it replicated itself, making its effects even more powerful.

"The virus gets inside cancer cells and kills them by triggering an immune protein - and that leads to signalling of other immune cells to come and join the party", he said. The virus gets into the cancer and replicates, like a little factory of viruses.

Authors concluded that an "acceptable" safety profile of CAVATAK, proof of viral targeting, replication and tumour cell death, and the creation of "immunological heat" around tumours indicate that CAVATAK "may be potentially considered as a novel therapeutic for NMIBC".

We might not be any nearer to finding a cure for the common cold, but one particular strain of the virus could revolutionise treatment for bladder cancer.

Prov Pandha said: "It's nearly like a universal agent - once it gets in it kills the cancer".

Surrey University conducted a trial involving 15 cancer patients who were in the early stages of the illness.

Examination of tissue samples post-surgery discovered that the virus was highly selective, targeting only cancerous cells in the organ and leaving all other cells intact.

One bladder cancer patient had no trace of the disease following the innovative treatment.

Another common course of treatment, immunotherapy with the live bacterium Bacille Calmette-Guerin, has been found to have serious side effects in one third of NMIBC patients while one third do not respond to the treatment at all.

For example, transurethral resection - an invasive procedure to remove lesions - sees a high tumour recurrence rate of up to 70pc, with a high tumour progression rate of up to 20pc between two and five years after surgery.

Dr Nicola Annels, research fellow at the University of Surrey, added: "Traditionally viruses have been associated with illness however in the right situation they can improve our overall health and wellbeing by destroying cancerous cells".

She said the use of the viruses "could transform the way we treat cancer and could signal a move away from more established treatments such as chemotherapy".

Allen Knight, chairman of Action Bladder Cancer UK, said bladder cancer cost the NHS more per patient than almost every other cancer, because of the high recurrence rate.

Prof Pandha said the same virus had also been tested on skin cancer, but this was the first time it had been studied in a clinical trial on bladder cancer.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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