The virus that causes polio may increase the survival rate and extend life expectancy among patients with glioblastoma, a common and lethal brain cancer. Researches have created a modified virus that is creating amazing results. In the clinical trial, 21% of the patients that received the modified poliovirus are expected to live longer than expected compared to the 4% treated with only traditional chemotherapy.
The modified virus can infect and kill brain tumors while simultaneously triggering the patients’ immune system to attack the tumors. Researchers created the hybrid virus by removing one of the virus’ genes and replacing it with one harmless one from rhinovirus, which causes the common cold; this insures that the patient will not contract polio during the trial. Additionally, the trial is unique because the treatment does not kill brain cells, but releases tumor antigens that trigger the body’s immune response.
Opening Doors for New Treatments
Dr. Mathias Gromeier is the co-author of the study and a professor of neurosurgery at Duke University’s School of Medicine. He admits that this clinical trial is only a first step to opening doors for several new trials. In the next few weeks, researchers will go beyond brain cancer patients and begin poliovirus trials on patients with skin and breast cancer.
The second phase of the trial will combine the genetically modified poliovirus with one dose of chemotherapy. This phase will also include pediatric patients with brain tumors for the first time. Since it is typically very difficult to treat brain tumors, researchers expect improved results during the next round of the trial because of the additional chemotherapy element.
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