Medical Moment: The virus killing cancer cells

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 5:31 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

(WNDU) - We all know someone who has battled cancer.

Standard care involves things like chemotherapy and medication.

Now, for the first time ever, clinical trials are underway testing a new virus that targets deadly cancer cells and wipes them out.

Colon, lung, breast, ovarian, and pancreatic, almost 1,000,000 will be diagnosed with one of these cancers in the coming year.

“People over the decades have been trying to find viruses to kill certain types of cancers for a long time,” said Yuman Fong, MD, a surgical oncologist at the City of Hope. “What we decided was that rather than doing that, why don’t we just find viruses that kill any type of cancer?”

Surgical oncologist Yuman Fong has been working for decades to find a virus that stimulates the immune system to track down all types of cancer.

Now, he thinks he’s created it.

“We actually created a panel of brand new viruses and then, we screened it against the NCI 60, which stands for the National Cancer Institute Panel of 60 cancers that generally, any new cancer therapies are screened against,” Dr. Fong explained.

The virus, called Vaxinia, also makes the cancer cells much more recognizable to the immune system, making it easier for immunotherapies to target the invading cancer cells.

“We are convinced that by having this virus, we will not only be able to directly attack the cancer and stimulate our immune system, but we will be able to partner with other agents that also do that and together, grow therapies for cancers that, until now, have no treatment,” Dr. Fong said.

Developing a man-made virus to not infect us but save us.

Phase I of trials is underway in places across the country. At the time of this interview, six patients had been given a low dose of the virus.