New treatment for brain cancer

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brain cancerResearchers at the University of Calgary say they’ve fine-tuned a death sentence for brain cancer cells.

The new treatment virus that’s been tested on mice is able to hunt down elusive cancer cells that have spread from the mother tumour while sparing surrounding healthy cells, say the scientists who’ve developed the process.

The approach also pioneers an intravenous delivery rather than injecting the curative virus directly into the tumour, said the U of C’s Dr. Peter Forsyth, a medical oncologist.

“An ideal cancer-fighting virus should have effective delivery into multiple sites within the tumour, evade the body’s immune responses, reproduce rapidly, spread within the tumour and infect cells that have spread,” said Forsyth.

“That’s exactly what we’ve found that VSV has done when injected intravenously.”

VSV is the vesicular stomatitis virus that tracks down the cancer cells that normally migrate from the main tumour and render chemotherapy treatment useless.

The virus was tested on 14 lines of malignant glioma — one of the most common form of adult nervous system cancers — and killed all of them.

It’s a promising process, said Forsyth and one that’s far less invasive.

“It is obviously a lot easier to be treated with a few intravenous treatments rather than having several surgeries to inject directly into your brain,” he said.

The discovery illustrates the fruits of scientific collaboration, said Darrell Fox, national director of the Terry Fox Foundation.

“Dr. Forsyth is part of a pioneering group of researchers that are sharing their expertise and benefiting from the knowledge of others in working in this exciting new area of anti-cancer treatment,” he said.

It’s estimated that this year 2,600 Canadians will be diagnosed with brain cancer while 1,670 will die from it.

Most victims of the disease will live no more than a year.

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