While it has only be tested on in mice, a new cancer treatment, devised by researchers from the United Kingdom, has been able to completely eliminate prostate cancer. The new method, borrowing from Greek history, uses a ‘Trojan Horse’ to sneak in a virus that completely eradicates prostate cancer cells.
Researchers from the University of Sheffield were able to create a ‘delivery system’ involving the use of a virus, which is ‘smuggled’ into a tumour via the body’s own immune system, this then attacks the cancerous cells, completely wiping them out.
Publishing their work in the journal, Cancer Research, the researchers explained that after extracting macrophages from white blood cells, that ordinarily attack foreign bodies, they are loaded with cancer killing viruses that very much like HIV, are nearly impervious to attack from the tumour or any other cells. Mice that had just undergone chemotherapy were injected with these loaded macrophages two days after. While in the immune cell, the viruses begin to multiply and once delivered to the tumour burts open, releasing thousands of viruses, which very easily consume the cancerous cells, completely wiping it out.
In the labratory results, it was seen by the researchers that at the end of the 40-day, those mice given the Trojan horse treatment survived with no evidence of any tumour remaining while those mice given conventional treatment such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy died. Conventional methods, though sometimes effective are often quite detrimental as the two types of therapy damage tissue within the body.
But the Trojan horse method use conventional treatment as a primer as in the wake of either chemo-or radiotherapy, white blood cells flood the damaged areas and it is from this that the researchers draw their candidate macrophages as Prof Claire Lewis explains, "We're surfing that wave to get as many white blood cells to deliver tumour-busting viruses into the heart of a tumour."
Prof Lewis explained that the Trojan horse method, among the growing field of cancer treatment with viruses, is “ground breaking” and that "It completely eradicates the tumour and stops it growing back,” but cautioned that while proving very successful in mice, further testing is need to see the viability of the treatment method in humans, with trials to begin this year.
Commenting, Dr Emma Smith, from Cancer Research UK, said,"Harnessing the body's own immune system to deliver a deadly virus to tumours is an exciting approach that many scientists are pursuing. This study shows it has the potential to make chemotherapy and radiotherapy more effective weapons against cancer.