Health July 10, 2019
Common cold virus may lead to new treatments for cancer, U.K trial finds

By News - World Healthcare Journal

A strain of the common cold virus has shown to attack and kill bladder cancer cells in a small-scale British study.

A recent study from scientists at the University of Surrey and Royal Surrey County Hospital has trialled a new treatment method for patients with bladder cancer – the common cold.

Fifteen patients with non-muscular invasive bladder cancer - which is the 10th most common cancer in the U.K - were infused with the virus through a catheter, before undergoing surgery to remove and examine the tumours in each patient. The virus used, known as coxsackievirus, or CVA21, typically causes mild flu-like symptoms.

One week after undergoing the treatment and surgery, it was found that the virus had targeted only the cancer cells in the bladder, leaving healthy cells intact. In one patient, no trace of the bladder cancer was left. Over the course of the study, no significant side effects were reported by the participants.

Despite this study only being tested on a small sample, researchers hold high hopes for this treatment method to develop into a conventional means of treating patients with bladder cancer.

"Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is a highly prevalent illness that requires an intrusive and often lengthy treatment plan. Current treatment is ineffective and toxic in a proportion of patients and there is an urgent need for new therapies,” says Professor Hardev Pandha, principal investigator of the study and Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Surrey.

Tumours in the bladder often do not contain immune cells, so the body doesn’t recognise the cancer; allowing cancer to continue unstopped. By infecting the cancer cells with the virus the infected tumours inflame, “sounding the alarm” to the patient’s immune system. Healthy cells in the bladder are able to fight off the virus if it infects them as they still retain the natural antiviral response which cancer cells do not have, effectively making the virus fully oncolytic.

This treatment breakthrough comes as promising news for patients with bladder cancer. The current methods of treatment for patients who suffer from the cancer are highly invasive, carrying large risk to the patient – whilst it also holds a high tumour recurrence rate, ranging from 50 to 70 per cent.

"Coxsackievirus could help revolutionise treatment for this type of cancer. Reduction of tumour burden and increased cancer cell death was observed in all patients and removed all trace of the disease in one patient following just one week of treatment, showing its potential effectiveness,” says Prof. Pandha.

Cancer research organisations and charities also hold high hopes for the use of the virus in treatment programmes. Allen Knight, chairman of Action Bladder Cancer UK, said the study findings were "very exciting"

Dr Mark Linch, from Cancer Research UK, stated: “Although at an early stage, these initial results are encouraging. It will be really interesting to see how this new virus-based therapy fares in larger trials in people with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, particularly in combination with newer immunotherapies. ”

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