Using one disease to fight another isn’t uncommon. The measles in a modified form can be used as a radical treatment in the fight against cancer. Now, scientists have developed a virus similar to cowpox, and the results show the potential to defeat cancer cells.
CF33 is a virus developed by Imugene, an Australian company. Although studies are in the preliminary stages, the virus has so far successfully defeated every known type of cancer in a petri dish and also in animal testing.
US cancer expert and surgical oncologist Professor Yuman Fong is engineering this treatment, which has shrunk tumors in mice. Professor Fong hopes researchers can translate the CF33 successes into human treatment success.
Imugene, a biotechnology company based in Western Australia, will target patients with bowel cancer, melanoma, lung cancer, bladder, colon and gastric cancer and those with triple-negative breast cancer in the next phase of the study. The human trials will begin in Australia and the United States in early 2020.
According to Australia’s 7 News, the treatment works by injecting the virus directly into the tumor where it infiltrates cancer cells and then explodes them. The new generation treatment for cancer will allow patients to avoid chemo and radiation therapy that weaken the patient’s immune system.
Cancer patients are already queuing up for trials of a new therapy which has killed every known type of tumour in mice. The treatment’s based around the centuries-old cowpox virus, which appears to infiltrate cancer cells then explode them. @amberlaidler7 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/OsRnYJOCLI
— 7NEWS Sydney (@7NewsSydney) November 8, 2019
The technology of using viruses to kill viruses has been around for decades. A herpes virus was genetically engineered to treat cowpox itself and eventually became the basis for the smallpox vaccines that eventually eradicated the killer disease in humans.
“There was evidence that viruses could kill cancer from the early 1900s when people vaccinated against rabies had their cancer disappear, they went into remission.
The problem was if you made the virus toxic enough to kill cancer you were worried it would also kill man,” Professor Fong said.
Although the medical community is excited by the positive results lab testing has produced in mice, one expert is urging caution until human studies are conclusive. Cancer Council head, Professor Sanchia Aranda explained:
“When it is tested in a human we will see whether the immune system mounts a defense against the virus and knocks it off before it gets to the cancer or there could be nasty side effects.
Cancer cells are very clever, they are true Darwinians that mutate to survive and there is a likelihood they will evolve to become resistant to the virus as they do now to become resistant to chemotherapy and immunotherapy.”