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Mayo Clinic Cancer Center: Harnessing the measles virus to attack cancer

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center has opened a new clinical study using a vaccine strain of the measles virus to attack recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, a largely untreatable brain tumor. This is the second of several pending molecular medicine studies in patients using measles to kill cancer.

"We are looking at better ways to treat some of the most lethal cancers," says Eva Galanis, M.D., oncologist and lead researcher on the glioblastoma multiforme project in the measles virus investigation. "We have shown in the laboratory and in several animal models that measles virus strains can significantly shrink glioma tumors and prolong animal survival. It is very rewarding to see this work maturing to the point of now being able to offer this novel and promising treatment approach to patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme." She also reports that toxicology studies, conducted in conjunction with Federal Drug Administration, showed an excellent safety profile.

Mayo Clinic is unique in its pursuit of oncolytic measles vaccine strains for cancer treatment, and the research has grown from the most basic laboratory science to the sophisticated therapy being tested today in several tumor types, including glioblastoma multiforme, recurrent ovarian cancer and multiple myeloma.

Many cancer cells, including glioblastoma cells, overexpress a specific protein, CD46, which allows tumor cells to evade destruction by the immune system. Strains of the measles virus, including the one in this study, seek out this protein, entering the glioblastoma multiforme tumor. Upon entry, the virus begins to spread, infecting nearby tumor cells and fusing them, which augments the effect of infection and increases cancer cell death.

Mayo's research team has an ongoing clinical study for ovarian cancer. "We've seen early evidence of biologic activity," says Dr. Galanis. "The ovarian cancer trial, though in its early stages, has demonstrated safety, which n
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Source:Mayo Clinic


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