The common cold virus can infect and kill bladder cancer cells, a new study has suggested.
A particular strain of the cold virus was shown to have led to the disappearance of all signs of cancer in one patient, with another 14 showing evidence that cancer cells had died.
Researchers on the study from the University of Surrey said the virus could “help revolutionise treatment” for bladder cancer and reduce the risk of it recurring, reported the BBC.
The study has been called “very exciting” by Action Bladder Cancer UK, who said the cancer costs the NHS more per patient than nearly every other cancer due to the high recurrence rate.
“If the safety, tolerability, and efficacy data can be confirmed in larger clinical studies and trials, then it could herald a new era in the treatment for non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer patients, like me, who often feel that innovations in cancer therapies pass us by,” said a spokesperson.
Dr Nicola Annels, a research fellow at the University of Surrey, said the results could “signal a move away from more established treatments such as chemotherapy.”
How does it work?
The 15 patients in the study were given the cancer-killing coxsackievirus (CVA21) through a catheter a week prior to surgery removing their tumours.
When tissue samples from the tumours were analysed after they were removed, scientists spotted signs that the virus had targeted and killed cancer cells. The virus then reproduced and infected other cancerous cells, leaving other healthy cells intact.
It works by turning the tumour ‘hot’, making the body’s immune system react, rather than leaving it ‘cold’ due to the lack of immune cells fighting off the cancer.
Study leader Professor Hardev Pandha said, “"The virus gets inside cancer cells and kills them by triggering an immune protein - and that leads to signalling of other immune cells to come and join the party.
"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."
A future trial is planned to continue to assess the potential effectiveness of the treatment.