Scientists in Australia revealed that they may have discovered a way to eliminate all cancer cell types. The discovery they have found could also make the tumors smaller.

The scientists used a principle based on a medical breakthrough which is more than 200 years old. Edward Jenner, a scientist, found a way in 1796 to defeat smallpox by using cowpox virus. Today, Imugene scientists have created a new virus that they say can terminate cancer cells on a Petri dish. They also used the cowpox virus as the basis for creating the new virus.

At present, cancer cases are on the rise, particularly in India. Based on data made available by the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research or NICPR, approximately 2.25 million people are currently suffering from cancer in India. Thousands more are being added to this number each year.

The Discovery

Oncolytic viral therapy is all about engineering or redesigning existing viruses that can kill a particular virus. One example is the genetically engineered herpes simplex virus called Talimogene laherparepvec with the trademark name Imlygic. This redesigned virus is now being used to treat melanoma of the skin.

Professor Fong, when asked to explain the process used by his team, said that the hepatitis virus targets only liver cells while the meningitis virus attacks only the brain cells. Using a similar principle, his team looked for a virus that can target, and perhaps kill cancerous growths. Prof. Fong said he and his team believed that if they can find such a virus, it could be a huge leap in the quest to find a permanent cancer cure.

In the course of his team’s research, scientists re-engineered a virus they call CF33. They then tested it against 60 various cancer cells in a Petri dish using a plate of cancer cells they refer to as NCI60 or National Cancer Institute 60. At the end of the test, the scientists found the redesigned virus was able to terminate every cancer cell existing on that Petri dish.

The scientists then proceeded to test it on mice. They were able to use the virus safely on the mice and they also found it helped shrink the tumors.

A Hopeful Future

The scientists have expressed their optimism in the ability of the re-engineered virus to target and terminate cancer cells in human bodies. They are also very positive on the notion that the virus would also help enhance the immune system to identify and destroy any remaining and hidden cancer cells.

Professor Fong expects to begin human trials the following year. He said that his goal is to target and eliminate some of the most deadly types of cancer cells such as brain cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer.