A team from Duke’s University, North Carolina, have pioneered using a genetically-engineered polio virus as a method for tackling brain tumours.
A recent successful case, with other trials, has prompted the powerful US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to credit the therapy with ‘breakthrough’ status allowing further research to be fast-tracked.
This should allow the new therapy to become widespread following further clinical trials, in a much shorter time-frame.
The recent breakthrough hinged on glioblastoma patient Stephanie Lipscomb, whose tumour shrank for 21 months after treatment back in 2011 and then after a further three years has now left her cancer free.
Led by molecular biologist Dr Matthias Gromeier at Duke’s, the therapy involves replacing the virus’ disease causing abilities with genetic code from the cold virus.
Glioblastoma tumours have the correct receptor cells to allow the engineered virus entry, removing their protective shield against the body’s immune system, and allowing them to be destroyed.
“All human cancers, develop a shield or shroud of protective measures that make them invisible to the immune system,” said Dr. Matthias Gromeier.
“This is precisely what we try to reverse with our virus. So by infecting the tumor, we are actually removing this protective shield and enabling the immune system to come in and attack.”