The influenza virus and pancreatic cancer are both the cause of many deaths around the world, and the loss of loved ones. Pancreatic cancer alone has the lowest survival rate of all cancer types, as only a shocking 5% of 9,800 annually diagnosed patients will survive five years. The influenza virus itself is responsible for over 120 deaths in the UK since early October, with the country experiencing the worst strain of the flu since 2011. Both are incredibly dangerous, but could it be that a modified strain of the common flu virus is able to treat pancreatic cancer?
A new potential treatment
Described as selective and effective, scientists are now exploring the success of a modified strain of the virus being injected into the bloodstream, and the way in which it attacks pancreatic tumours without the harming of healthy cells. Plans to move onto clinical trials are imminent, which, if successful, could become part of a new treatment for pancreatic cancer patients. Due to the effective co-operation between the virus and chemotherapy drugs during the research, the treatment would be used in combination with chemotherapy drugs.
The use of modified viruses has been an important aspect of a variety of cancer treatment research, and has shown promising results. While there are concerns about the effects of the flu virus when it’s injected into the bloodstream, the modified flu virus is engineered so that it is incapable of causing diseases in healthy bodies. The virus acts through the targeting of a particular molecule, named alpha v beta 6. This is located on the exterior of pancreatic cancer cells but, most importantly, not on normal healthy cells. When entering the afflicted cells, the virus replicates itself and, through creating duplicates of itself, expands the cell – causing it to burst. This continues, as the process repeats itself, finally killing the cancer cells off completely.
Due to nature of pancreatic cancer and how it burrows into hard to penetrate layers, this has typically meant that the delivery of treatments less effective. However, as the new virus is injected into the bloodstream, this creates a much more effective way of distributing treatment. With the aim being to get clinical trials up and running within the next two years, this new modified virus is much more selective in its targeting and therefore brings new hope in the world of cancer treatment. There are however considerations towards the effectiveness of the treatment of pancreatic tumours, as they are known to have a low blood supply as well as being surrounded by a tangled netting of tissue.
At FluCamp, we research viruses and how they affect our immune systems. We conduct clinical trials to improve and increase understanding of how the body behaves when encountering a virus, and what we can do to minimise these effects. Find out more about our trials or contact us for further information.