Lab Canada

Common virus as potential cancer therapy

Calgary, AB – The potential use of the reovirus as a possible treatment for multiple myeloma, a cancer that affects blood cells is being studied by researchers at the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services’ Tom Baker Cancer Centre. They injected the naturally occurring virus into animal models containing human multiple myeloma cell lines, and found that the virus killed the cancer cells while leaving the normal, healthy cells alone. Conventional cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy kill both cancerous and healthy cells.

Multiple myeloma, which represents about one per cent of all cancers, is a cancer that occurs when an accumulation of abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow interfere with the production of normal blood cells. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates there will be approximately 2,400 new cases of multiple myeloma in Canada this year. Reovirus is a common virus that most people are exposed to in their lives. It does not result in significant illness and usually develops into flu like symptoms such as a respiratory infection or mild diarrhea.

This research might lay the foundation for an early phase clinical trial using reovirus for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Clinical trials using the reovirus on lung and prostate cancer have already been started by this same group of researchers.

Funded by grants from the Alberta Cancer Research Institute the findings were published in the August 2012 edition of Clinical Cancer Research.