Parents do everything they can to protect their children against all of the nasty germs floating around classrooms across the country this time of year. Doctors and researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital, however, are looking into how those same types of common viruses can actually help treat a child who is diagnosed with certain cancers.
This novel approach is called, viral therapy. It involves slightly altering a virus in the laboratory, injecting it directly into a solid cancer tumor which then causes the tumor to shrink and disappear altogether.
Several years of study into this approach have led scientists to find more and more evidence that oncolytic viruses show promise as anticancer agents with variations of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) among the most commonly used. Viral therapy has been studied in adults, but only a few institutions have studied it in kids.
"Virus therapy is a very promising area of cancer treatment," said Timothy Cripe, MD, PhD, division chief of Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation at Nationwide Children's. "By injecting the tumor directly with a virus, it will cause the body's immune system to react and attack that tumor while preserving the body's healthy cells."