A virus designed in the laboratory promises to kill all known cancers

The fight against cancer could have taken a giant step. A group of researchers led by Dr. Yumang Fong, from the City of Hope cancer research center in Los Angeles, has successfully tested in the laboratory the effectiveness of a virus – designed from cowpox – that has proven capable from remove all types of tumor cells known to date.

He CF33 treatment, developed by the Australian biotechnology company Imugene, has demonstrated its ability to reduce tumors in mice, but will not begin to be tested in humans with breast, lung, bladder, gastric and intestinal cancer until early 2020. This will be the determining phase. , the so-called 'Death Valley' of science as a way of referring to the period in which the vast majority of ideas experienced in Petri dishes dies.

Professor Fong houses high hopes according to the last precedents. The recent experimental use of immunotherapy against brain cancer from the common cold virus is an example. This finding is more than a century old, but while doctors were unable to determine if the virus was killing cancer or if the infection woke up defenses, it is now possible to modify it to selectively make tumor cells sick.

Under the same logic, a modified form of the herpes virus or cold sores called Imlygic or T-Vec is being used to treat melanoma. This strain helps the body's immune system to recognize and destroy tumors, while finding other melanoma cells throughout the body until they are finished.

The first investigations failed because the viruses were too toxic, but Fong has mixed them with one that is harmless.

"There was evidence that viruses could kill cancer since the early 1900s, when people vaccinated against rabies saw their disease subside," says Fong. However, these first approaches failed because the viruses used were too dangerous or could only attack specific cells such as skin or liver tissue. "The problem was that if it made the virus toxic enough to kill cancer, he worried that he would kill the man too. "

Knowing that sheep pox is harmless For humans, Fong has mixed this with other viruses that, according to evidence, can kill cancer. With this custom microorganism he hopes to be able to directly attack the tumors, and then alert the immune system that there are cancer cells, driving him to look for and kill any disease.

Prudence on its effects on humans

The head of the Cancer Council of Australia, a country that will test the effects of this innovative remedy, is prudent and remembers that she must still overcome many barriers before demonstrating that it works in humans. "When it is tested in people, we will see if the immune system sets up a defense against the virus and eliminates it before it reaches cancer or if there could be unexpected side effects," he explains to the newspaper 'News'.

"The cancer cells are very intelligent, they are true Darwinians who mutate to survive and there is possibility that they evolve to become resistant to the virus as they do now to become resistant to chemotherapy and immunotherapy, "he said. In any case, he has no doubt that it is worth trying the new treatment to see if it is possible to increase the existing arsenal against cancer.