Cancer Center Breakthrough May Alter Treatment

October 25, 2010


Georgetown researchers at Lombardi Cancer Center may have discovered a cancer-killing treatment that implements a cold virus in the destruction of cancer cells.

The virus, known as reovirus, is known to cause gastrointestinal problems and infect the respiratory tract. When interacting with tumors, however, it evolves rapidly and destroys them.

A team of researchers, headed by Deepa Subramanium, interim-chief of the Thoracic Medical Oncology Program, has begun preparing for an upcoming clinical trial focused on a certain type of cancer: “advanced or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer with a specific tumor profile.”

This kind of cancer is particularly vulnerable to viral attack, making reovirus an ideal solution.

“This is a subset of cancer [for which] we haven’t had many successes in terms of finding drugs that extend life after diagnosis. This trial represents an attempt to seek and destroy cancer by choosing a treatment based on specific tumor characteristics,” Subramanium said.

Participants in the clinical trial will be treated with paclitaxel and carboplatin, as well as reovirus. According to a press release, the researchers have genetically altered the virus so that it will not infect healthy cells. This virus will only grow in tumor cells, hopefully destroying the cancer-infected cells. Researchers are looking to see if the virus effectively reduces tumors, as well as any side effects of the two other medications. The clinical trial is sponsored by Oncolytics Biotech, Inc.

It is not known when results of the trial will be available.

Author: Kelly Church,