Research: Re-engineered Polio Virus May Treat Cancer


An experimental program at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, Duke University is trying to develop a new Cancer therapy involving a re-engineered polio virus. The therapy is currently going undertrials in Duke and incase, this innovative technique continues to prove promising it could add alongside to other cures used for Cancer: surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

The research program, ‘Targeting Cancer with Genetically Engineered Poliovirus (PVS-RIPO)’ is lead by Mathias Gromeier, MD (Associate Professor of Surgery and Molecular Genetics & Microbiology) and Allan H. Friedman, MD (Study Principal Investigator).

Dr. Mattias Gromeier in the study figured out that Polio virus has this ability to attach to any solid tumor cancer cell: brain, prostate, breast or lung. The only problem in the cure was that Polio can also attach to neurons, which can develop the Polio disease.

Dr. Mattias removed the toxic part that infected normal neurons, replaced it with a cold virus and kept only the part that attached cancer cells. Although, the Polio virus, when infected into a patient dies off quickly, but it alerts the immune system for the presence of a virus. This activates the immune system and enables a natural cure against Cancer.

This genetically engineered poliovirus is called PVS-RIPO. PVS-RIPO kills cancer cells, but not normal cells,because its ability to grow (and kill) depends on biochemical abnormalities only present in cancer cells.

Safety testing in non-human primates and human patients has shown no nerve cell killing, no ability to cause poliomyelitis, and no ability of PVS-RIPO to change back to wild type poliovirus that can cause poliomyelitis. The neuro-oncologist Dr. Annick Desjardins informed media,

“The reason we had to do so many studies over 25 years is because it’s polio. People were scared. We had to do a lot of studies on animals. It was years of just safety studies, in order to prove we won’t give polio to the patient, and also to prove we won’t trigger an epidemic in the population.

”Currently, phase I clinical trials of PVS-RIPO against recurrent glioblastoma brain tumors are ongoing at Duke. It is planned to extend these studies (Phase II/III) further to establish PVS-RIPO as a possible therapy for brain tumors. In addition, PVS-RIPO has the potential to work for other types of cancers. The reason for this is that the mechanisms responsible for PVS-RIPO’s effects against brain tumors broadly apply to almost all cancers.

In the trials, So far, of the 22 patients that have undergone this therapy, 11 have died and 2 have been declared cancer-free. Though statistics might confuse readers about the success of the study, it has been calculated to be quite successful, as the trials currently focused on calculating the right dosage and the safety (reactions or side effects) of the patients.

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