The University of Surrey has just shown that the benefits of "going viral" extend far outside of social media. An exciting recent study centered on the use of catheterized coxsackievirus (CVA21) given to pre-surgical patients of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.
The virus was administered one week prior to scheduled tumor-removal surgeries in all participants. Examinations of tissue samples post-surgery showed that the CVA21 had marked and aggressively attacked cancer cells within the bladder, but had conveniently left healthy cells alone.
With this particular type of bladder cancer representing the 10th most prevalent cancer in the UK, many medical professionals see this encouraging data as a potential tide shift in one of cancer's most precarious demographics.
The virus works its magic by stimulating an immune protein within the cancer cells, which in turn flags other immune cells to participate in the evacuation of the cancerous element. Unlike all preceding treatments associated with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, this approach is non-invasive and has produced zero side effects.
Tumors of this kind in the bladder are generally referred to by medical practitioners as "cold," and thus invisible to the immune system, but the introduction of the CVA21 virus appears to switch them to a "hot" reading, making the body's natural defenses react in a positive way.
With its high rate of recurrence, bladder cancer has not only stumped cure-seeking researchers for decades but has also cost the NHS more than any other kind of cancer on record today.
Developments in progressive cancer therapies can often seem to skip over these more resilient brands of the illness, and thus the data from the CVA21 study represents what many are heralding as revolutionary, not merely hopeful. All participating patients in this study recorded cancer cell death, and one saw a total eradication of all symptoms of the disease.
Virus-based therapies have shown promising success rates in skin cancer trials in the past, and researchers eagerly anticipate applying them to large-scale trials based on other predominant kinds of cancer.