Using Polio to… destroy brain cancer?

Poliovirus. Transmission electron micrograph, negative stain image of the polio virus.A very exciting report just came out of Duke University, from the laboratory of doctors Matthias Gromeier, MD, and Allan H. Friedman, MD, demonstrating that a genetically engineered form of poliovirus was able to destroy brain cancers–when injected directly into the cancers.

Interestingly, this virus was able to infected brain cancers, but not normal brain tissue. Besides the destructive effect of the virus on the brain cancers, it was believed that the virus also caused an immune response against the brain cancer, thus targeting the immune system to help destroy the cancer.

It is especially interesting to me, having worked with the founder of tumor immunology, Dr. Lloyd Old, nearly 5 decades ago, and having investigated the nature of immune recognition and destruction by lymphocytes, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the late 1970s.

My chief there, and current colleague, Dr. William R Levis, has a product in phase 2 trials, which is been shown to be effective in eradicating cutaneous melanoma metastases by creating an immune response against them. It is exciting to see immunotherapy of cancer becoming a reality after being part of this field for half a century. Here’s a more recent study from William Levis.

Although this next comment is highly speculative, it is certainly ironic to see the modified form of poliovirus destroying brain cancers when the polio vaccines around 1960 we’re contaminated with SV 40 virus, which is suspected to have a causal role in the formation of brain cancers in rare instances in those people who’ve received it.

A wild speculation might include the possibility that some genetic combined information from the original polio and SB 40 combination gave rise to some of the tumors being treated, and that the new modified poliovirus is cross reactive to some aspect of the brain tumor, and thus sets off a cross reactive immune attack against it.

I hope to have the opportunity someday to tie together some of these various treatments, based on insights from our past studies at the NCI.

To your health,

~Dr. Dattner
Holistic Dermatology & Integrative Medicine

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