Virotherapy for Mesothelioma
Virotherapy uses genetically modified viruses to attack cancerous cells. It is quickly emerging through clinical trials as a viable mesothelioma treatment.
Doctors have known for many years that viruses can attack cancer, but until recently they weren’t able to apply this knowledge safely to cancer treatments. Now the curative potential of viruses is being explored as a cancer treatment option. Clinical trials are taking place around the world thanks to a new understanding of how to use virotherapy safely and effectively.
Several virotherapy treatments have the potential to increase survival. Many of the treatments being tested have already produced positive results in mesothelioma patients. Such treatments have proven to be beneficial in other cancers, even leading to remission in some cases.
Alternative for Chemotherapy Resistance
Chemotherapy has come a long way as a treatment for mesothelioma, but some patients are still unresponsive to it. Emerging virotherapy may be a viable alternative for these patients.
Treating Advanced Mesothelioma
Perhaps the greatest benefit of virotherapy is its potential to help advanced-stage mesothelioma patients. Surgery is not an option for most patients at this stage, but virotherapy could prolong survival by preventing the disease from spreading.
Minimal Side Effects
Virotherapy is valued for its minimal side effects. Side effects are caused when healthy cells are destroyed. The viruses used to treat mesothelioma are modified to leave healthy cells unharmed.
Unlocking the Potential of Viruses
As far back as the early 20th century, doctors understood the cancer-fighting potential of viruses. However, because scientists hadn’t developed technology to harness the power of viruses safely, they relied upon other approaches to battling cancer —mainly, chemotherapy and surgery.
Viruses used in cancer treatment are modified by removing the part of the genetic material in the virus that is necessary for it to spread. This modification makes it safe for patients. The virus, however, doesn’t lose the ability to infect mesothelioma cells.
This genetic modification also makes targeted therapy possible. Healthy cells are left unharmed by targeting mesothelioma cells, which means fewer side effects for patients. The destruction of healthy cells is usually responsible for treatment-related side effects such as nausea and fatigue.
Three types of virotherapy are available:
- 1Oncolytic Viruses – These types of modified viruses directly kill cancer cells and may also stimulate the immune system to fight back. Oncolytic viruses have shown serious potential for fighting mesothelioma.
- 2Viral Vectors for Gene Therapy – Gene therapy involves reprogramming the genetic material in cancerous cells so they die off. Viral vectors are modified viruses that deliver genetic material to cells.
- 3Viral Immunotherapy – Immunotherapy uses the immune system to kill mesothelioma cells. Viral immunotherapy activates the immune system with the help of modified viruses.