How the common cold might be able to help beat mesothelioma

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are fighting malignant mesothelioma with an unexpected tool – the cold virus.

The approach fits into a category of treatment known as immunotherapy, which aims to harness the body’s own immune system to find and attack cancer cells.  In the current study, Penn Medicine mesothelioma researchers, injected mesothelioma patients with a modified form of the adenovirus – a virus normally associated with the common cold. The virus had been altered to express high levels of an immune system stimulant called Interferon-a, a protein that can boost the body’s ability to fight off viral infection.

Nine mesothelioma patients with varying stages of the disease received injections of the modified virus directly into their chest cavities. Almost all of them began producing anti-tumor antibodies.  Although the four patients with the most advanced mesothelioma showed no signs of improvement, in the remaining five patients there was evidence of disease stability or even tumor regression. In one case that researchers described as “dramatic,” there was partial tumor regression at a site some distance away from the injection site. None of the patients experienced any major side effects from the treatment.

There seems to be more and more positive research being published about immunotherapy, which wasn’t even being considered 10 years ago. Here’s hoping for the good results to continue and feed through into new forms of treatment.

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