Virus creates cancer killing factory inside glioma cells

Virus creates cancer killing factory inside glioma cells
In a real life Phase I clinical trial more than a quarter of patients with a high grade glioma survived over three years. In the trial, led by Clark Chen, M.D., Ph.D., Lyle French Chair in Neurosurgery and Head of the University of Minnesota Medical School Department of Neurosurgery, 56 patients were injected with Toca 511, a replicating virus that only infects actively dividing tumour cells.  Inside the cells, the virus delivered a gene for the enzyme cytosine deaminase. This then replicated and spread to other cancer cells. They also made the enzyme. 


In the second step, the patients took an inert pill, Toca FC. However, once inside a cancer cell with cytosine deaminase present, the Toca FC was converted into 5-fluorouracil, a strong, anti-cancer chemotherapy. This killed the cancer cell. It was also noted that the drug simultaneously knocked out myeloid cells which suppress the immune system, resulting in a stronger immune response against the cancer.


"It is notable that the survival benefit was seen across a range of patients and not just limited to patients with specific genetic mutations," said Chen. 


Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and a founder of CANCERactive said, “It’s clever. And about time. Survival data on glioma patients has been stuck in a rut for decades, with drugs like Temozolomide and Avastin having little effect. This technique uniquely turns cancer cells into a factory that makes an anticancer drug while boosting the immune response. People so rarely talk of three-year survival when mean survival time for TMZ and Avastin is measured in months. Getting 26% of patients past the three year mark is a real step forward.”
Go to: Building an Integrative treatment plan for brain cancer




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