Future cancer patients may have one very brave woman to thank: A 49-year-old Mayo Clinic patient who suffered from multiple myeloma for about a decade is now cancer-free thanks to a cutting-edge treatment. In an experimental procedure, she received an extremely high dose of the measles vaccine, enough to inoculate 10 million people (!!!). The vaccine was delivered in a single injection through an IV over the course of an hour. Within a week, her tumors started shrinking and within three months she was completely free of the disease. She’s been in remission for about six months. [Tweet this news!]
Another multiple myeloma patient received the treatment, and although not in remission, also showed a reduction of bone marrow cancer and myeloma protein.
With the vaccine, the measles virus infects and destroys cancer cells. It basically causes the cells to explode from the inside out. That helps explain why it works so rapidly after it’s administered. The treatment is known as systemic oncolytic virotherapy. “This is the first study to establish the feasibility of systemic oncolytic virotherapy for disseminated cancer,” Stephen Russell, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic hematologist, and co-developer of the therapy said in a Mayo Clinic press release. “These patients were not responsive to other therapies and had experienced several recurrences of their disease.”
Next, researchers will start a larger phase two clinical trial for multiple myeloma patients this September on the path toward earning FDA-approval for the treatment. If the results echo this first finding and all goes according to plan, it could be available within four years. Russell also plans to test the treatment for other diseases such as ovarian cancer, head and neck cancers, and mesothelioma.
Imagine: Treating cancer with a single injection. It may not be such a crazy idea after all.