A virus injected directly into the bloodstream could be used to treat people with aggressive brain tumours, a study has found.
A virus injected directly into the bloodstream could be used to treat people with aggressive brain tumours, a study has found. Scientists from the University of Leeds and The Institute of Cancer Research in London have found that the naturally occurring virus could act as an effective immunotherapy in patients with brain cancer or other cancers that have spread to the brain.
They showed that a type of virus called reovirus could cross the blood-brain barrier to reach tumours, where, it is hoped, they will replicate and kill the cancer cells. They also found that the virus was able to ‘switch-on’ the body’s own defence systems to attack the cancer. The reovirus therapy could be used in conjunction with other cancer therapies to make them more potent— and a clinical trial is currently underway.
Up to now, scientists thought it was unlikely that the virus would be able to pass from the blood into the brain because of the blood-brain barrier, a protective membrane around the brain. However, the research demonstrated that the virus could be administered through a single-dose intravenous drip. “This is the first time it has been shown that a therapeutic virus is able to pass through the brain-blood barrier, and that opens up the possibility this type of immunotherapy could be used to treat more people with aggressive brain cancers,” said Adel Samson, from University of Leeds.