Cancer, the one word no one ever wants to hear from their doctor. Sadly, over 17 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed worldwide in 2018, according to Worldwide cancer data, and unfortunately these figures may continue to rise each year.
There does seem to be a light in the tunnel in terms of treatment for all types of cancer with a new virus developed by an Australian company. The virus is based on cowpox and in lab tests has killed every known type of cancer cell in a petrie dish.
Called CF33, the virus successfully shrunk tumors in mice and will hopefully be trialed in Australia and other countries early next year. Patients with triple negative breast cancer, melanoma, lung, bladder, gastric and bowel cancer will be enrolled for the trials. Researchers believe testing several cancers will be quicker to show where the treatment is most effective.
US cancer expert Professor Yuman Fong engineered the treatment and it is being developed by Australia biotech company Imugene, which has licensed the innovation.
Professor Fong is in Australia at the moment meeting with Imugene representatives and to plan the clinical trials.
Scientists have been fighting diseases with virus for years with good results. A modified form of the herpes virus is being used as an effective treatment against some types of skin cancer and cowpox virus, a disease from cow’s udders, formed the basis of the first smallpox vaccines for humans.
Professor Fong told the Daily Telegraph: “There was evidence that viruses could kill cancer from the early 1900s when people vaccinated against rabies had their cancer disappear, they went into remission.
“The problem was if you made the virus toxic enough to kill cancer you were worried it would also kill man.”
Professor Fong believes his virus will be safe for humans and the best way to attack cancerous tumors by having the virus injected directly into the tumors, where it will multiply and burst out of the tumor, killing it in the process.
No doubt expectations are high but it will take a long time of tests, analysis and research to ensure the virus is safe for use in hospitals.
Cancer Council chief Professor Sanchia Aranda told the Daily Telegraph: “When it is tested in a human we will see whether the immune system mounts a defense against the virus and knocks it off before it gets to the cancer or there could be nasty side effects.
“Cancer cells are very clever, they are true Darwinians that mutate to survive and there is a likelihood they will evolve to become resistant to the virus as they do now to become resistant to chemotherapy and immunotherapy’’.
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