Fighting Cancer With the Common Cold

Many of us out there are currently undergoing, have undergone or had a loved one undergo treatment for cancer. We dream about a miracle treatment that will come along and wipe cancer out for good. Well, there may be hope in that department right now.

Treatment Kills Cancer Cells

Australian biotech firm, Viralytics, is currently testing an oncolytic virus called Cavatak, which infects and kills cancer cells, part of a growing class of cancer therapies. As one of the largest pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world, Merck & Co. will be using their own immunotherapy, Keytruda, alongside Cavatak–once Viralytics is acquired by Merck & Co. This is a strategic attempt to more quickly expand the number of cancers and people that the drug works for.

Viralytics’ Virus

Cavatak is an injection of the coxsackievirus A21 virus known to cause the common cold. The virus works by naturally binding two proteins that are overproduced on the surface of cancer cells in melanoma and other tumors. The virus sneaks covertly infiltrates the cell, where it replicates and eventually forces the cell to burst open. This shrinks the tumors and releases more tumor-busting viruses in the process. The virus can also be used to stimulate an anti-tumor immune response in an individual.

Similar Trials From the Past

Tumors shrinking due to a viral infection is nothing new. Reports have surfaced that start over 100 years ago. Around 1950, there were a few clinical trials which spurred interest in intentionally injecting viruses into tumors but, for some reason, the idea was soon forgotten. A renewed interest, with recent research backing it up, has shown the power of combining oncolytic viruses with other cancer therapies.

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