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Opinion: Can viruses kill cancer?

The future of cancer clinical trials may rest with oncolytic viruses

Douglas W. Loe
Chemotherapy is not for the faint of heart, but it can kill many forms of cancer. But while chemotherapy can shrink tumors, they often grow back and become resistant, or refractory to the treatment.
A graphic is of reoviruses proliferating from cancer cells
Image: Oncolytics Biotech
To combat this resistance, doctors often cautiously combine chemotherapy with other treatments that have different mechanisms for attacking and killing cancer cells.One approach that has proven quite promising in clinical studies is known as oncolytic virotherapeutics. Here, viruses are harnessed to infect, multiply within, and subsequently lyse cancer cells -- all without affecting normal tissue. Several types of oncolytic viruses have been developed to date. The most clinically advanced poxvirus is probably JX-594 -- during a Phase II trial, 5 of 7 evaluable patients exhibited stable disease after taking JX-594 combined with the multikinase inhibitor Nexavar. A separate Phase III trial of the herpes...
Science
Douglas W. Loe
Image: Versant Partners
linkurl:Douglas W. Loe,;http://www.versantpartners.com/en/bios/dloe.html PhD, MBA, is a healthcare and biotechnology analyst at Versant Partners, a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). Loe holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Guelph, working in the area of cancer chemotherapy and multidrug resistance, followed by postdoctoral training at the Queen's University Cancer Research Institute, in which he focused on P-glycoprotein and MRP-mediated multidrug resistance. He can be reached at linkurl:DLoe@versantpartners.com.;mailto:dloe@versantpartners.com Neither the author nor Versant Partners own shares in, or are financially compensated by, Oncolytics Biotech.



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