Researchers in the UK say that an experimental “Trojan Horse” cancer therapy “completely” eliminated the disease in mice, much to the surprise of experts.
Taking a note from the famous Greek strategy, researchers at Sheffield University in South Yorkshire, England used macrophages, one of the body’s immune system cells, as a carrier for a virus. Once the cells infiltrated the cancerous tumor, the virus began to spread and attack the cancerous cells, BBC News reports.
The test was administered to mice with prostate cancer roughly two days after they were given chemotherapy. Taking advantage of the surge in white blood cell count due to tissue damage from the treatment, experts injected mice with the virus-carrying cell.
Remarkably, all of the mice that received the experimental therapy not only survived the ordeal, they also showed no signs of prostate cancer. Those who were not given the Trojan Horse therapy were found to not live as long, and the cancer continued to spread.
The cancer strategy is exciting, but experts are quick to point out that much more work lies ahead. Tests will eventually need to be performed on humans, and there’s another obstacle in the way.
So far, researchers haven’t quite figured out how to deliver the virus deep enough in a tumor, and enough of it to eliminate the disease. Still, the news is welcome.
“It demonstrates that this innovative method of delivering a tumor-killing virus direct to the cancer site is successful at reducing the development of advanced prostate tumors in mice which have been treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy,” said Dr Kate Holmes, head of research at Prostate Cancer UK
“If this treatment goes on to be successful in human trials, it could mark substantial progress in finding better treatments for men with prostate cancer which has spread to the bone.”