Doctors May Have Found Cancer Cure!
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic injected large amounts of measles virus into two patients with blood cancer. They got really sick, then recovered, and the cancer got better!
The idea is viruses attack cells. If researchers can train viruses to attack cancer cells, the little bugs could do us some good!
The two patients at the Mayo Clinic were not responding to other treatments for blood cancer, so their doctors decided to try the experimental procedure. They genetically modified the measles virus, then injected large amounts -- enough to infect 10 million people -- straight into the bloodstream.
As expected, the patients got really sick, but then recovered. At least one is now in remission.
Measles was chosen because the virus attacks white blood cells. A particular type of white blood cell is where the blood cancer originates.
Unfortunately, the treatment won't work if you've been vaccinated for Measles! Your own antibodies would kill the virus before it went to work on the cancer cells.
Nor is it clear this specific treatment will "cure" the two patients involved. Unlike a tumor, cancer cells in blood are tough to target -- they certainly can't be surgically removed. In fact, one of the researchers said, "We haven't discovered a cure for cancer here."
But scientists believe this test shows the strategy has great potential. It was previously only tried on mice. It is possible this method can be tweaked and be a real "cure" for some cancers in the future.