Ottawa University scientists in Canada may have found the cure for breast cancer and it comes from the unlikeliest source.
Through the combination of immunotherapy and a virus, a breakthrough study has discovered a potential treatment for aggressive breast cancer.
Their ground-breaking research was confirmed after they used their study to cure up to 90 per cent of mice diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer – which is considered the gravest form of cancer.
The survival depends on how early a cancer diagnosis is caught the scientists in Canada are confident their new findings will lead to a potential cure.
Helmed by the university’s scientists, the discovery was made after a sperate study found out aggressive brain tumours could be cured by an injection of a virus.
Speaking on the amazing discovery to the Ottawa Citizen, lead author of the study, Dr Marie-Claude Bourgeois-Daigneault, said:
“It was absolutely amazing to see that we could cure cancer in most of our mice, even in models that are normally very resistant to immunotherapy.
We believe that the same mechanisms are at work in human cancers, but further research is needed to test this kind of therapy in humans.”
In the UK alone, an estimated 11,400 people die from breast cancer, and it is believed that the figure is four times higher in the United States. While various charities estimate triple-negative breast cancer account for 15 per cent of cancer cases, death rates are much higher.
They discovered oncolytic viruses like Maraba can invade a tumour and attack it while also triggering a broad immune response against particular cancer cells. Furthermore, ‘checkpoint inhibitors’ such as Yervoy and Opdivo can shut off a link which tumours use to ‘mislead’ the immune system and stop the progress of ‘cancer-fighting T-cells’
Dr John Bell, who is a postdoctoral of Dr Bourgeois-Daigneault, said:
“They both bring something to the table. The viruses, they initiate the immune response and then the immune checkpoint licences the immune system, engages it, and allows it to be active. We doubled down on immune stimulation, and when we did that, we found it was very effective in preventing (cancer) relapses”
Bell hopes to use Bourgeois-Daigneault’s research to establish a trial clinic which tests the combination therapy on patients diagnosed with triple breast cancer. One of the challenges he faces is funding for a trial which has various researches and studies in the field of immunotherapy.
Dr Bell says:
“The real problem is that everyone is just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks. Let’s stop doing that. Why not, instead, have a rational approach and say, ‘This actually makes biological sense so let’s combine these things this way.’
That’s part of what this study was designed to do: To try to find an indication that makes sense and has potential clinical applicability.”