Rochester, MN, United States (4E) – Mayo Clinic researchers have cured a blood cancer patient by injecting her with a massive dose of measles vaccine strong enough to inoculate 10 million people.
The experimental treatment or virotherapy of Stacy Erholtz, 49, of Pequot Lakes last year caused measles virus to wipe out her multiple myeloma cancer cells that have spread in her body for 10 years, according to the researchers. Erholtz has been cleared of the cancer for six months now, though a second patient who underwent the same virotherapy, went into remission after nine months.
Erholtz said the treatment was easy and had very few side effects.
Mayo Clinic hematologist and lead researcher Dr. Stephen Russell said the method was tried on lab mice with metastatic cancer before and it worked, so a clinical trial for humans was conducted. The researchers genetically modified a measles virus so it selectively attacks toxic cancer cells.
“We have known for some time viruses act like a vaccine. If you inject a virus into a tumor you can provoke the immune system to destroy that cancer and other cancers. This is different, it puts the virus into bloodstream, it infects and destroys the cancer, debulks it, and then the immune system can come and mop up the residue,” said Russell, according to Kare11.com.
Erholtz and the other patient are immune-compromised and their immune system cannot fight off measles because of few antibodies to the virus.
Mayo Clinic is planning to conduct a new clinical trial for the method involving more patients in a bid to get a Food and Drug Administration approval of the procedure within four years. Mayo researchers are also testing the measles virus’ effectiveness at fighting ovarian, brain, head and neck cancers and mesothelioma.