Common Cold Virus Fights Cancer, Study Finds

The common cold virus and cancer are two conditions (of different significance, of course) that are frequently lamented as being incurable, but it turns out that the former may provide clues on how to fight the latter.

Researchers in Britain say data on the common cold may open the door for new cancer treatments, after it was discovered that the smart cold virus )injected into bowel cancer patients whose cancer had metastatized to the liver) set up shop in tumors, but not healthy tissue.

Study author Dr. Alan Melcher is professor of clinical oncology and biotherapy at Leeds University, and he explains how the reovirus behaved when observed in cancer patients:

“It seems that reovirus is even cleverer than we had thought… By piggybacking on blood cells, the virus is managing to hide from the body’s natural immune response and reach its target intact. This could be hugely significant for the uptake of viral therapies like this in clinical practice.”

Co-author Dr. Kevin Harrington of the Institute of Cancer Research described the cold and cancer research in a statement:

“It would have been a significant barrier to their widespread use if they could only have been injected into the tumor, but the finding that they can hitch a ride on blood cells will potentially make them relevant to a broad range of cancers.”

Harrington continues:

“We also confirmed that reovirus was specifically targeting cancer cells and leaving normal cells alone, which we hope should mean fewer side-effects for patients.”

The study was published in the medical journal Science Translational Medicine.