Scientists Engineer 'Cowpox-Style' Virus That Shrank Tumours In Mice, Set To Plan Human Trial

Scientists Engineer 'Cowpox-Style' Virus That Shrank Tumours In Mice, Set To Plan Human Trial

Once ready, the engineered virus is expected to be injected into cancer cells directly causing them to explode and the immune system would then identify them and act. Professor Yuman Fong, a US scientist behind the breakthrough is working with an Australian based biotech in the clinical trials.

Update: An earlier version of this article had the headline "Scientist Makes Breakthrough With Virus That Could Kill Every Kind Of Cancer". It has now been updated. 

The day is not far when cancer could soon be one of the many diseases that could be treated with just an injection or a vaccination. A US-based scientist claims that he has engineered a cowpox-styled virus to destroy any kind of cancer cells. He has tested it on mice with positive results and is on his way to test it on humans. A biotech company in Australia is already working on making a version that can be used on humans. When tested in a petri dish, the virus named CF33 destroyed any kind of cancer in mice or shrunk them. Professor Yuman Fong, the scientist behind the breakthrough, will also oversee it being tested on patients with breast cancer and patients with other kinds of cancer.    



Once ready, the engineered virus would be injected directly into the tumors. It is hoped that this would infect the tumors and lead them to explode. The immune system would then do the rest identifying more of such tumors and destroying them. Cowpox is more or less harmless to humans and used in protecting against smallpox. When mixed with other viruses, the cowpox was found to have cancer-killing properties. Fong is busy trying to organize clinical trials for his breakthrough cancer treatment in Australia. Among the other kinds of patients who are likely to be tested during the trials are those with lung cancer, melanoma, cancer of the bladder and those with gastric and bowel cancer. 



This is not the first time that a virus has been used to treat cancer. The common cold-causing virus was used to treat brain cancer in the US by scientists. It was found that this led the tumors to shrink greatly. For many others, it disappeared completely before it came back. Imlygic or T-Vec, a cold sore virus was also used to treat melanoma. According to Daily Mail, Fong said, "There was evidence that viruses could kill cancer from the early 1900s when people vaccinated against rabies had their cancer disappear, they went into remission. The problem was if you made the virus toxic enough to kill cancer you were worried it would also kill man."



While the success of the engineered virus in mice obviously does not guarantee that it would be successful in humans, but the breakthrough has already excited not just the scientific community but also people around the world. For people with cancer, it marks a beacon of hope. Fong is positive about human trials. Since other specific viruses have been effective in fighting cancer in humans, he believes we are set for another revolutionary treatment for the dreaded disease.   

Recommended for you