UK – Modified vaccinia virus shows potential in fighting sarcoma tumours

New research published in the Clinical Cancer Research has found that modified versions of the vaccinia virus have boosted immunotherapy in sarcoma tumours; a hard-to-treat cancer.

The cancer-killing virus with immunotherapy could effectively treat the advanced cancers, which affect the limbs.

The virus, which is a viral component of the smallpox vaccine, was able to switch on the immune system against cancer in rats with sarcoma tumours, leading scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), London, to believe that infecting tumours with vaccinia could make immunotherapies work in many more patients – since the immune system is hard-wired to recognise viruses.

The ICR studied sarcomas using tumours in rats and human cells to see whether infection with a vaccinia virus modified to selectively attack cancer cells could uncloak the disease to the immune system, and found that all six animals who received the combination therapy followed by surgery for their sarcoma were cured.

The virus and immunotherapy were given alongside chemotherapy using a procedure known as isolated limb perfusion, which delivers drugs into the bloodstream after cutting off the blood supply in the limb from the rest of the body…