A strain of the common cold virus can help infect and destroy bladder cancer cells, according to a study led by an Indian-origin scientist.
Researchers from University of Surrey in the UK investigated the safety and tolerability of exposure to the oncolytic (‘cancer-killing’) virus coxsackievirus (CVA21), a naturally occurring strain of the common cold, in 15 patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).
NMIBC is found in the tissue of the inner surface of the bladder and is the 10th most common cancer in the UK with approximately 10,000 people each year diagnosed with the illness.
During the study, 15 NMIBC patients, one week prior to pre scheduled surgery to remove their tumours, received CVA21 via a catheter in the bladder.
Examination of tissue samples post-surgery discovered that the virus was highly selective, targeting only cancerous cells in the organ and leaving all other cells intact.
According to the study, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, the virus was found to have infected cancerous cells and replicated itself causing the cells to rupture and die.
Urine samples taken from patients on alternate days detected ‘shedding’ from the virus indicating that once virally infected cancer cells had died, the newly replicated virus continued to attack more cancerous cells in the organ.
“Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is a highly prevalent illness that requires an intrusive and often lengthy treatment plan. Current treatment is ineffective and toxic in a proportion of patients and there is an urgent need for new therapies,” said Hardev Pandha, professor at the University of Surrey.
“Coxsackievirus could help revolutionise treatment for this type of cancer. Reduction of tumour burden and increased cancer cell death was observed in all patients and removed all trace of the disease in one patient following just one week of treatment, showing its potential effectiveness. Notably, no significant side effects were observed in any patient,” Pandha said.