(CBS Local) — Could a virus be the answer to curing cancer? Scientists in Canada say they have discovered an “absolutely amazing” new treatment which may cure the most resistant forms of the disease.
A study conducted by The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa found that a new combination that uses two different immunotherapies cured up to 90 percent of the mice it was tested on. The mice, which were suffering from breast cancer, were exposed to a cancer-killing virus called Maraba as well as another therapy known as a checkpoint inhibitor.
“It was absolutely amazing to see that we could cure cancer in most of our mice, even in models that are normally very resistant to immunotherapy,” said lead author Dr. Marie-Claude Bourgeois-Daigneault in a press release. The researchers reportedly focused on “triple negative” breast cancer; the most aggressive and resilient form of the illness.
On their own, each therapy proved to be ineffective with the checkpoint inhibitor curing none of the mice. The virus therapy was only able to cure 20 to 30 percent of the mice on its own. “When you infect a cancer cell with a virus, it raises a big red flag, which helps the immune system recognize and attack the cancer,” Dr. John Bell explained. “We found that when you add a checkpoint inhibitor after the virus, this releases all the alarms and the immune system sends in the full army against the cancer.”
The group’s research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine and the cancer-fighting combo is now being tested on human patients.