Health Headlines: Scientists developing cancer killing virus

Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 7:54 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - For the first time ever, clinical trials are underway testing a virus that targets cancer cells.

Surgical oncologist at City of Hope, Dr. Yuman Fong, says, “People over the decades have been trying to find viruses to kill certain types of cancers for a long time. What we decided was that rather than doing that, why don’t we just find viruses that kill any type of cancer?”

Dr. Fong has been working for decades to find a virus that stimulated the immune system to track down all types of cancers. Now, he thinks he’s created it.

“We actually created a panel of brand new viruses and then, we screened it against the NCI 60 – that stands for the National Cancer Institute Panel of 60 cancers that generally, any new cancer therapies are screened against.”

The virus, called Vaxinia, also makes the cancer cells much more recognizable to the immune system making it easier for immunotherapies to target the invading cancer cells.

“We are convinced that by having this virus, we will not only be able to directly attack the cancer and stimulate our immune system, but we will be able to partner with other agents that also do that and together, grow therapies for cancers that, until now, have no treatment.”

The phase one trial, focused on safety, is now underway in City of Hope institutions across the country.