New Cancer Vaccine Shows Promise
Mainstream Medicine May be On the Brink of a Cancer Vaccine
There’s good news on the cancer-cure front. A new cancer vaccine “shows real promise.” It’s a new approach that involves injecting an engineered virus directly into the bloodstream of a cancer patient. The virus then goes on to selectively target and kill cancer cells throughout the body. Keep reading to learn more about this exciting breakthrough. . .
Researchers have gone so far as to say this new approach, considered a medical first, could actually transform cancer therapy as we know it. Not only does it attack cancer at its root, it also has few or no side effects.
New twist on an old cancer-fighting tactic
Scientists have actually used viruses to attack cancers for quite a while. But the approach never gained ground as a major treatment option because some major hurdles stand in the way. Most of those hurdles start in the immune system.
As you probably know, the immune system is built to attack viruses (along with other types of invaders). It even attacks the “good” viruses, found in vaccines, that doctors put in our bodies to prevent disease or treat illness. This means your immune system will try to kill off any virus injected into your body, even if it’s a virus meant to attack cancer.
In the past, if scientists wanted to test a vaccine for efficacy against cancer, they had to inject the virus directly into a cancer tumor. They couldn’t risk letting a virus travel through the body by way of the bloodstream. It would surely get attacked and weakened by the immune system.
The problem is that injecting a virus directly into a tumor can be extremely difficult. First off, not all cancers are accessible from outside the body, no matter how long an injection needle may be. It’s almost impossible to gain access to cancers within internal organs.
This means the major problem has always been getting high concentrations of cancer therapies, such as peptides and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), into specific tumor tissues without hurting the surrounding normal tissues. For a long time, it was impossible to do this with any kind of intravenous treatment. At least, that was the case until recently. . .
From small pox to cancer: why the JX-594 virus seems to work
This new virus, called JX-594, is a modified form of the vaccinia virus. The scientists who read this newsletter may be aware of its more famous use in the development of a smallpox vaccine.
With an eye toward cancer treatment, the poxvirus was engineered for cancer-selective replication. Scientists believed it could serve as a vehicle for intravenous delivery so they modified it to reach cancers via the bloodstream. This makes for a viable treatment for anybody with cancer, even if that cancer has already spread throughout the body.
The difference between this modified virus and previous cancer-fighting viruses is that JX-594 can only replicate when a specific chemical pathway is present. This pathway is common in certain cancers. In effect, the virus doesn’t start working until it makes contact with cancer. This means it’s not much of a threat to the body as it travels through the bloodstream.
Researchers have already seen positive results from a trial of 23 patients. Scientists began the study by injecting this new anti-cancer virus in varying doses, although all patients participating in the study were suffering from cancers that had already spread to multiple body organs.
In seven out of eight patients who received large doses of the virus, scientists found that the virus had replicated within the tumors of those patients — but not in healthy tissue. This means the virus attacked only cancer tumors while healthy tissue was unaffected.
For six of the patients in the study who received low doses of the treatment, further tumor growth was prevented by infection prompted by the virus. This means even smaller doses of the virus were enough to stop tumor growth.
Positive responses were even seen in patients with mesothelioma tumors, which are malignant cancers found in the lining of the inner organs and are classically hard to treat.
Essentially, the study shows that JX-594 actually infects, then replicates transgene products that lead to the destruction of cancer cells.
The study was designed to test the safety of the virus on human subjects, so each patient only received one dose of the virus. It remains to be seen whether high and continuous concentrations of the virus will have more of an effect.
It appears there were a few adverse effects, but they mainly just consisted of flu-like symptoms.
Biologic therapies: the key to stopping cancer forever?
We’ve known for a while that cancer research advances at a turtle’s crawl. These new findings finally show some real progress is being made.
It’s a mark of how scientists are finally changing the way they view cancer treatment. More and more, they’re looking at ways to use the bloodstream to deliver therapies.
According to Dr. John Bell from the University of Ottawa, who served as lead researcher on the study, the intravenous delivery is a huge step forward because it means tumors throughout the body can be treated as opposed to just those capable of direct injection.
The next step is determining whether the virus is effective when delivered in high concentrations.
As Dr. Bell put it, “We are very excited because this is the first time in medical history that a viral therapy has been shown to consistently and selectively replicate in cancer tissue after intravenous infusion in humans.”
Though we can’t go so far as to say it’s a cancer cure, it’s definitely the beginning of something good. Of course, researchers are quick to note this approach is still in the early stages.
And no doubt the technophobes among us will be disturbed that the vaccine is based on a modified microorganism. I don’t believe that genetic modification is always and everywhere dangerous. I think it can be beneficial to humankind. Should we be afraid of genetic tinkering? I’ll say more about that in a future issue.
I do recognize there are plenty of careless, greedy and dishonest people in Big Science and major corporations. It’s not the technology that’s a problem, it’s human nature, which has been in trouble ever since Eve ate the apple.
Regardless, this new approach to cancer treatment brings us one step closer to targeting tumors directly with high concentrations of cancer-killing molecules … without sacrificing the health of the rest of the body.
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From Cancer Defeated