Researchers at the Mayo Clinic are recruiting mesothelioma patients to participate in a Phase I clinical trial of a treatment based on an altered version of the measles virus.. The proposed new drug being developed at the Mayo Clinic falls into an emerging category of treatment known as “virotherapy.”. It uses a version of the measles virus that has been engineered to carry toxic chemicals directly into cancer cells.
When the altered virus, known as MV-NIS, is injected into a mesothelioma patient, it carries radioactive iodine into infected mesothelioma cells, which can then be seen using CT imaging. If the iodine uptake is significant, researchers can inject more of the MV-NIS, carrying an even more lethal version of the radioactive iodine to help the virus destroy the mesothelioma tumor.
In preliminary studies on mice infected with mesothelioma, a single injection of the measles virus doubled the life span compared to those mice that didn’t receive the virus. Some even appeared to be cured. This Phase I trial of the new virotherapy is designed to assess the safety and side effects of the treatment in humans and to establish dosing requirements. If MV-NIS proves to be safe, it may eventually be combined with chemotherapy drugs which suppress the immune system, giving the tumor-killing virus more time to work.
The current clinical trial is recruiting patients with all stages of mesothelioma, including those with recurrent disease. More information and participant eligibility requirements can be found at the National Cancer Institute Clinical Trials Website.