A promising new weapon in the arsenal to fight cancer is emerging at a number of medical centers across America. The idea sounds radical, but it's working ... not on everyone, but on enough people who previously had no hope that doctors are saying this could be the breakthrough for which they have been looking.
Right now these treatments are in their trial phase.
They're injecting viruses into the cancerous tumors and seeing them shrink, even to the point of remission. The viruses stimulate the patient's immune system so that it attacks cancer cells and leaves the rest of their body alone. Again, these stunning results are being seen in people for whom surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy proved ineffective in the long term.
The viruses are genetically modified in a laboratory so that they do not infect the patient's entire body, but rather just the cancer.
Doctors at Duke University Medical Center have witnessed remarkable success by injecting a modified polio virus into brain tumors. It's taken the Duke team years to arrive at this level of treatment, and they are still trying to perfect it, because still too many of the patients who try it do not survive.
Meanwhile, at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, doctors are using a form of the HIV virus to kill leukemia. The trials are being led by Dr. Carl June, who reports success in 70 percent of the patients. One young leukemia patient, Emily Whitehead, has been in remission for two years.
The Mayo Clinic is also reporting success in using a virus to treat cancer. Stacy Erholtz had tumors on her forehead, collarbone, and spine that went away after she was injected with a modified measles virus. She had battled multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of blood for 10 years, trying chemotherapy and two stem-cell transplants, to no avail.
The Mayo Clinic's Dr. Stephen Russell said of the treatment, "We recently have begun to think about the idea of a single shot cure for cancer. And that's our goal with this therapy."
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