Scientists hopeful about virus that could kill ‘every type’ of cancer

  • 11/09/2019 2:38 am ET Sneha Konda, Wojtek Wacowski

Scientists hopeful about virus that can kill "every type" of cancerScientists have created a new cowpox-style virus in a bid to cure “every type” of cancer. The cure uses viruses to infect and kill cancer cells. The idea is to cause cancer cells to rupture and die, while also stimulating a wider immune system response in the body.

The lead scientist behind the new cure is Professor Yuman Fong. He is a U.S. cancer expert, affiliated with City of Hope, a California leading cancer research hospital   The technology is using oncolytic viruses — naturally occurring, or genetically modified viruses that infect, replicate in and eventually kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed.

Scientists hopeful about virus that can kill "every type" of cancer 1


Called Vaxinia CF33, the treatment can reportedly kill every type of cancer, The Daily Telegraph reported.

A Day in the Life of Yuman Fong, M.D.

What's a day in the life of a City of Hope doctor like? Follow Yuman Fong, M.D., as he goes from the operating room, to the office, to ballroom dancing and more. All in 24 hours.

Posted by City of Hope on Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A report in Lad Bible notes that fighting a disease with a virus has always been around. A form of the herpes virus is now in use as an effective treatment against some types of skin cancer. Similarly, the first smallpox vaccines for humans came from the cowpox virus. The latest in the race is the cowpox-derived Vaxinia CF33 which supposedly treats cancer.

The Daily Mail quoted Professor Fong as saying, “The problem was if you made the virus toxic enough to kill cancer you were worried it would also kill man.”

The Professor added that cowpox is harmless in humans. So, by mixing cowpox with other viruses, tests found it could kill cancer.

While the cure is indeed promising, the current media coverage serves mainly the function of attracting new investors.  Biotech research requires a lot of money.

Medical Biotech research requires money

The new cure is aggressively promoted by Australian biotech company Imugene, that appears to be finalizing acquisition of the City of Hope’s Vaxinia CF33 Oncolytic Virus (OV) bringing with it the core experienced clinical development team of Viralytics another Australian biotech company– which sold to US based Merck & Co last year for $394 million.

With early trials shrinking tumors in mice, Imugene is reportedly looking to roll out human trials. Starting next year, the Aussie company will target patients with triple-negative breast cancer, melanoma, lung cancer, bladder, gastric and bowel cancer.

Imugene has a market capitalization of about $83 million has long tried to spark the interests of big pharma. And last month, it announced that City of Hope researchers and Professor Fong had received a $564,173 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

Here’s the rub: Why is a new therapy that’s being developed by American scientists, using American taxpayer’s money being transferred to a foreign private company?

Interested in the topic? - Read: We Can’t Afford the Drugs That Could Cure Cancer - WSJ

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