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UK Scientists Find Potential Bladder Cancer Treatment in Common Cold Virus


Published On :   2019-07-05

Out of the 15 patients involved in the study, 14 showed increased bladder cancer cell death and one showed removal of all trace of the disease.

According to a small study authored by researchers from the University of Surrey, bladder cancer cells could be infected and eliminated by a strain of common cold virus. Published in Clinical Cancer Research, the study involved 15 patients treated with a naturally occurring common cold virus called CVA21. One week before their tumor removal surgery, the patients were given a strain of coxsackievirus CVA21 through a catheter. The researchers found some signs that showed cancer cells in the bladder had been targeted and killed by the virus, after analyzing tissue samples post the surgery. Without affecting healthy tissues, the virus reproduced and infected more cancerous cells.

“Requiring an often lengthy, and intrusive treatment plan, non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is a highly prevalent disease. There’s an urgent need for new therapies; current treatment is toxic and ineffective in a proportion of patients,” said University of Surrey’s Medical Oncology Professor and the study’s lead investigator, Hardev Pandha.

Coxsackievirus CVA21 gets inside cancerous cells and eliminates them by triggering immune protein

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 40,000 US people are affected by non-muscle invasive bladder cancer every year. In the UK, close to 10,000 new cases of the cancer are reported annually. Treatments currently available involve expensive and constant monitoring and are highly invasive, not to forget they also come with some side effects such as relapse. What the coxsackievirus CVA21 does is special, according to Pandha. The virus triggers an immune protein to kill cancer cells after entering inside them, Pandha said. Moreover, it signals other immune cells to join in.

“For this type of cancer, coxsackievirus could help revolutionize treatment. In all patients, increased cancer cell death and reduction of tumor burden were observed, and in one patient, all trace of the disease was removed, after only one week of treatment, showing its potential effectiveness,” Pandha said.

Since they lack immune cells to combat the cancer, bladder tumors are usually cold. However, they could be turned hot due to the actions of the coxsackievirus CVA21, which causes the immune system to react.

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