Posted August 29, 2012
by Marta Cyperling
Researchers at the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services’ Tom Baker Cancer Centre are examining the potential use of the reovirus as a possible treatment for multiple myeloma−a cancer that affects blood cells. Scientists 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.
“The virus appears not to affect healthy cells, unlike radiation and chemotherapy,” says Dr. Don Morris, lead author of the study, AHS medical oncologist and member of the University of Calgary’s Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute. “In the future, this treatment might be used in conjunction with other cancer therapies, as we have recently found that the combination of reovirus and other new therapies currently used in the treatment of myeloma work better together than individually.”
Scientists hope this research lays the foundation for an early phase clinical trial using reovirus for the treatment of multiple myeloma. This same group of researchers has already started clinical trials using the reovirus on lung and prostate cancer.
Reovirus is a common virus that most people are exposed to in their lives but it does not result in significant illness. It manifests as flu like symptoms such as a respiratory infection or mild diarrhea.
“When reovirus is given systemically it travels to the bone marrow where the myeloma cancer cells reside, and specifically kills these cells not harming the normal cells. Reovirus has the ability to multiply within the cancer cells unlike chemotherapy drugs which have a dose limitation due to side effects to the patient,” says Chandini Thirukkumaran, PhD, first author of the study, research assistant professor in oncology and member of the University of Calgary’s Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute.
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−230 of which will be in Alberta.
The findings were published in the August 2012 edition of Clinical Cancer Research. The study was funded by grants from the Alberta Cancer Research Institute.
Watch a video on this research on our YouTube channel : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNnTICkiG4U&feature=youtu.be