Scientists have recorded major breakthrough in the search for a long-lasting bladder cancer treatment — a feat which, according to them, potentially signals a move away from chemotherapy.
This comes on the heels of the discovery that the strain of the common cold virus can target and kill cancer cells in patients suffering from bladder cancer.
In a new study published on the journal Clinical Cancer Report, all signs of the disease disappeared in one patient while significant evidence showed cancer cells were decimated in 14 others.
Participants, who comprised of 15 patients that had the disease, were given the cancer-killing coxsackievirus (CVA21) through a catheter one week before they underwent a tumour removal surgery.
Tissues samples were then analyzed and findings revealed that the virus had targeted and killed cancer cells in the bladder. It had also reproduced and infected other cancerous cells — leaving healthy cells intact.
“What the virus does is special. It gets inside cancer cells and kills them by triggering an immune protein that leads to the signalling of other immune cells to come and join the party,” said Hardev Pandha, professor and lead researcher at Royal Surrey County Hospital.
“Reduction of tumour burden and increased cancer cell death was observed in all patients. It removed all trace of the disease in one patient following just one week of treatment.
“It also showed its potential effectiveness. Notably, no significant side effects were observed in any patient.”
According to the University of Surrey researchers, the common cold virus alongside a targeted immunotherapy drug treatment could “help revolutionise treatment” in future trials and significantly reduce the risk of recurrence.
“If the safety, tolerability, and efficacy data can be confirmed in larger clinical studies and trials, then it could herald a new era in the treatment for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients,” said Allen Knight, chairman at Action Bladder Cancer UK.
With an estimated 10,000 new cases occurring each year, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is reported to be the tenth most common type of the disease in the United Kingdom.
Worse is that current treatments for this type of bladder cancer are invasive in that they come with serious and quite toxic side effects — where constant and costly monitoring is needed to forestall a relapse.
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