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A virus to cure brain cancer

Injection of a genetically modified polio virus into the brain can give brain cancer patients several years more than normal treatment.

Forskere har funnet ut at virus sprøytet inn i hjernen kan kurere hjernekreft.
Annick Desjardins presented amazing findings at the 22. International brain cancer conference at Solstrand. UoB, headed by Rolf Bjerkvig, was the organizer.
Photo:
Kim E. Andreassen

Brain cancer is traditionally treated with a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, however with unsatisfying results. The average survival time for the most aggressive type of cancer, glioblastoma, is six to twelve months. Researchers have now found a new promising treatment method.

Genetically modified polio virus, injected into the brain tumor, kills the cancer cells without giving the patient polio. When the virus attacks the tumor, this also activates the immune system which then participates in the cancer-killing activities.

"We saw in our clinical studies that over 20 percent of patients lived for more than two years or longer. Two of the patients have lived for six years. The fact that patients live longer indicates that that this treatment works," says Annick Desjardins, of Duke University Medical Center.

Desjardins is first author of the study, published in the renowned New England Journal of Medicine.

The results were published the same day that she presented her work at the 22. International brain cancer conference (ICBTRT), at Solstrand on 26 june.

A most welcome new treatment

Brain cancer is a disease that is hard to cure, and the last 20 years have not brought signifiant progress.

"This new method is most welcome and gives new hope to live longer with the disease", says Professor Rolf Bjerkvig from the Department of Biomedicine, University of Bergen, who arranged the conference at Solstrand.

A total of 180 of the world's best brain cancer researchers were gathered at the conference, where many more results were presented. 

Hoping for progress

It ususally takes ten years before new research findings become standard treatment procedure. The participants at at this conference agreed that, in this case, it must be possible to alter the rules in order to expedite the process.

"We all agreed that we should not have to wait too long for this virus treatment", says Rolf Bjerkvig.