Cough Virus May Be Used to Treat Primary Liver Cancer, Study Finds

By Amy Taylor on December 08, 2016

New research found that the virus that causes coughs may be utilised to destroy cancer cells as well as the hepatitis virus, and therefore, could advance the fight against primary liver cancer.

According to the scientists from the University of Leeds, Reovirus was successful in treating both liver cancer cells grown in the laboratory and those taken directly from patients undergoing surgery. They found that when introduced into the body, Reovirus stimulates an immune system factor known as interferon. This, in turn, causes the activation of a specific white blood cell called a Natural Killer cell.

Study Impact

The new findings are important because they provide great hopes towards the development of better treatments for primary liver cancer.

"Our study establishes a completely new type of viral immunotherapy for the most common primary liver cancer type, hepatocellular carcinoma, which has a very poor prognosis in its advanced form.” said Dr Stephen Griffin, Associate Professor of Viral Oncology at the University of Leeds.

"Using a mixture of experiments in human cancer samples and mice, our research showed that the Reovirus therapy switches on the host immune system to attack cancer cells - as well as suppressing the replication of hepatitis C virus, which is linked to many hepatocellular cancers.

"Ultimately we hope that by simultaneously treating the tumour, and the hepatitis virus that is driving the growth of the tumour, we may provide a more effective therapy and improve the outcomes for patients.”

Primary liver cancer is cancer that starts in the liver. It is a separate condition from secondary liver cancer, where the cancer originally developed in another part of the body and then spread to the liver.

Current treatments for primary liver cancer that can’t be removed by surgery are mainly palliative. Meanwhile, chemotherapy doesn’t always cure cancer, just prolong life, and has side effects too.

The cancer treatment method that experts recommend these days is immunotherapy, which involves stimulating the immune system to kill cancer cells.

The researchers are now hoping to start the first in-human clinical trials. Their report was published in the journal Gut.

Source of this article:

Original article: Oncolytic reovirus as a combined antiviral and anti-tumour agent for the treatment of liver cancer

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