A new study from the University of Surrey suggests that a strain of the common cold virus can infect and kill bladder cancer cells. “All signs of the disease disappeared in one patient, and in 14 others there was evidence that cancer cells had died,” reports the BBC. From the report: In this study, 15 patients with the disease were given the cancer-killing coxsackievirus (CVA21) through a catheter one week before surgery to remove their tumors. When tissues samples were analyzed after surgery, there were signs the virus had targeted and killed cancer cells in the bladder. Once these cells had died, the virus had then reproduced and infected other cancerous cells – but all other healthy cells were left intact.
What the virus does is special, says study leader Prof Hardev Pandha, from the University of Surrey and Royal Surrey County Hospital. “The virus gets inside cancer cells and kills them by triggering an immune protein – and that leads to signaling of other immune cells to come and join the party,” he said. Normally, the tumors in the bladder are “cold” because they do not have immune cells to fight off the cancer. But the actions of the virus turn them “hot,” making the body’s immune system react. The plan is now to use the common cold virus with a targeted immunotherapy drug treatment, called a checkpoint inhibitor, in a future trial in more patients.