Researchers at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Scottsdale, Arizona are poised to inject a customized virus into the tumors of up to 48 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, one of the most common and aggressive types of liver cancer.
This virus is actually an experimental vaccine built around the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), an ancient cousin of the rabies virus. In collaboration with Glen N. Barber, Ph.D., at the University of Miami, the laboratory of Mayo Clinic immunologist Richard G. Vile, Ph.D., reconstituted the wild-type VSV to a high level of purity that doesn't exist in nature. Through a series of chemical reactions, the researchers coaxed the virus to accept a foreign gene called interferon-beta (IFN-beta) into its own genetic code, and then allowed the virus to multiply in a controlled environment.
The result is a cancer assassin — a precisely engineered vector that can slip into liver tumors undetected and deliver its genetic payload with minimal harm to the patient.
How well the vaccine works in patients should become clearer in the near future. Mitesh J. Borad, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist and oncologist, is leading the clinical trial at the Scottsdale campus of Mayo Clinic, and expects it to be underway in 2012.
"These patients are anxious for new experimental treatments," Dr. Borad says. "This offers the potential for cures — maybe not in everybody, but in at least a small proportion of patients."
Read the full story at: http://discoverysedge.mayo.edu/cancer-vaccines/
Sources: OBR Daily; Mayo Clinic