Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is a very common respiratory virus that is common in young children, but rarely affects adults. Adult symptoms usually include mild cold-like symptoms. In infants, it can be a little more serious. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have found a way to use the RSV virus as a way to attack cancer cells.
Santanu Bose, Ph.D., of the School of Medicine worked with Bandana Chatterjee, Ph.D., of the School of Medicine and the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, to show that RSV actually preferentially attacked and damaged cancer cells. This makes RSV a possible oncolytic therapy. During the study, Dr. Bose compared the responses of normal cells against RSV to those infected with cancer. The normal cells had virus fighting capabilities, but the cancerous cells seemed to have lost that ability. Dr. Chatterjee also used a mouse model with prostate cancer and found that the RSV virus had a “robust anti-cancer effect”. Amazingly, the RSV virus could be injected directly to the cancer site, or systemically through an abdominal injection. This makes treatment even better because there are simply some cancers that are too difficult to reach. The effects were long term too. After the prostate cancer infected mice were treated with RSV, their tumors were gone within a week. After four months of followup, the tumors didn’t return.
According to UT Health Science Center press release, Dr. Bose said, “This is an exciting development because this is a homegrown invention that is being tested in humans, and therefore this scientific discovery has direct clinical, translational relevance.” Dr. Bose work was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Recently, CZ Biomed has agreed to develop and market the treatment. They are already testing the treatment outside the U.S. and are finding good results. It is especially good because it lacks many of the side affects that chemo and radiation cause for cancer patients.