Using Polio to Treat Cancer

A retired cardiologist tells the story of how a malignant tumor in his brain underwent experimental treatment -with a polio virus! Fritz Anderson was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a particularly lethal type of brain tumor. Surgery and chemotherapy didn't stop the tumor from growing.

As doctors there examined me, it was obvious that my tumor had already grown again; in fact, it had quadrupled in size since my initial chemo and radiation. I was offered several treatments and experimental protocols, one of which involved implanting a modified polio virus into my brain. (This had been very successful in treating GBMs in mice.) Duke researchers had been working on this for 10 years and had just received permission from the FDA to treat 10 patients, but for only one a month. (A Duke press release last May explained that the treatment was designed to capitalize “on the discovery that cancer cells have an abundance of receptors that work like magnets in drawing the poliovirus, which then infects and kills the cells. The investigational therapy . . . uses an engineered form of the virus that is lethal to cancer cells, while harmless to normal cells. The therapy is infused directly into a patient’s tumor. The virus-based therapy also triggers the body’s immune system to attack the infected tumor cells.”)

To receive the virus, Anderson's skull was exposed and a drip was installed for six hours. The tumor stopped growing, and after two years, only a scar is left. And we wondered for so long if viruses served any purpose. Read more about this strange new treatment at the Washington Post. Link -via TYWKIWDBI

(Image credit: Arthur E. Giron)

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