Polio Virus Used to Treat Cancer

04/07/15 By Daryl Lee

Polio Virus Used to Treat Cancer

A groundbreaking clinical trial is being conducted at Duke University which may prove that the polio virus can be used to kill cancer tumors.

Matthias Gromeier, a microbiologist, has been working on developing this new form of treatment for the past 15 years.  Gromeier created a genetically modified polio virus which can be safely used in animals, and perhaps humans.  After years of research, and animal trials, humans are now being used in the first clinical trial. 

Gromeier explains that the altered polio virus alerts the immune system to the cancer and enables it to attack.  Although the virus initially starts killing the tumor, the body’s own immune system then takes over to finish the job.

Two patients, both diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a fatal and fast growing brain cancer, have been treated and show no sign of cancer, even years later.

In an interview about the new therapy, Dr. Henry Friedman, a neuro-oncologist and the deputy director of the Brain Tumor Center at Duke University, stated,

“This, to me, is the most promising therapy I have seen in my career, period.”

While there are success stories, the therapy is still in the beginning stages of its clinical trial. Researching the altered polio virus does come with its risks; 11 out of the 22 patients in the experiment thus far, have died from their diseases.



CBS News