A cure for cancer may be in the form of a dose of the measles virus. It turns out that a woman diagnosed with an incurable cancer was put through a series of tests and kept alive for six months after being injected with a high dose of the measles virus.
Interesting since something similar was done to rid the world of zombies in the movie World War Z. But imagine if it were possible to cure a deadly disease by administering another virus. Doctors in the U.S. treated a woman with multiple myeloma, which is a bone marrow cancer and kept her alive due to the measles shot.
The shot that was administered was specifically engineered to kill the cancer cells but not to harm anything else in the patients body. Other patients were treated as well with the same results. The tests were conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN and appeared in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The doctor that performed the tests was Dr. Stephen Russell, a hematologist and he had this to say about the results, “This is the first study to establish the feasibility of systemic oncolytic virotherapy for disseminated cancer. These patients were not responsive to other therapies and had experienced several recurrences of their disease.”
Bone marrow cancer is a pretty uncommon form of cancer, only 1 in 149 people ever have a risk of developing it. It’s a cancer that develops in plasma cells that live in the bone marrow. The tragedy of it is that it can develop anywhere in your body that has bone marrow, such as the rib cage or spine. When it hits in more than one place then you are diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
It was certainly a risky test to conduct as the patients immune systems had no antibodies to the virus, and they knew they would have to administer a high dose. They reported their findings based off of the fact that it’s the first case ever documented where there was such a high dose of the measles virus used on a patient. Since the patients had exhausted all other treatment options they decided it was worth the risk.
So how did the virus kill the cancer? Well imagine this, when the measles virus was injected into the patient it did a remarkable thing. The measles virus caused the cancer cells to join together and once they did they would explode. Not only that but they discovered something long term happening:
“There’s some suggestion that it may be stimulating the patient’s immune system to further recognize the cancer cells or the myeloma cells and help mop that up more effectively than otherwise.”
It’s good news for cancer sufferers everywhere. The testing is still in phase 1 however but there is hope that one day it will be available for everyone.