Science and Health

Measles Virus Appears To Wipe Out Woman's Cancer In Trial

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic appear to have wiped out a woman's cancer by injecting her with an engineered measles virus.

Measles Virus Appears To Wipe Out Woman's Cancer In Trial
Mayo Clinic

A fascinating medical milestone: A Minnesota women with an incurable form of multiple myeloma is now cancer-free after doctors used the measles virus to fight her disease. 

After battling cancer for 10 years and running out of options, Stacy Erholtz was one of two patients chosen for a Mayo Clinic study and is the only one it worked for. They were each given a massive dose of an engineered measles virus, enough to vaccinate 10 million people. (Via KEYC)

ERHOLTZ: "Which was alarming, and I was happy to hear that after the fact. ... We have known for some time that viruses can work as a vaccine. ... The measles essentially hone in on cancerous tumors and make them explode." (Via KBJR)

"We have a problem with cancer growing too much, and we have a problem with viruses growing too much, so if we can put the two together and get a virus to work for us and attack cancer cells, we can keep up with the growth of bad cells." (Via Fox News

Essentially, it's making the body's immune system work for you. Pretty clever. Also remarkable: The researchers say there are no long-term effects from the treatment. 

Dr. Stephen Russell, the study's lead author, explained, "The idea here is that a virus can be trained to specifically damage a cancer and to leave other tissues in the body unharmed." 


However, there were still symptoms directly after treatment. (Via CNN)

"People did get really sick. I mean 104-plus fevers, vomiting, another patient had a headache so bad they had to stop and restart the study. But they were short-lived. It went away after awhile." 

But the c-word, "cure," is something many doctors are hesitant to use until more research is done. 

"It's certainly caught a lot of people's attention. ... But these data are very early, very preliminary, a single patient. We don't have enough details. ... And as they say, the devil is in the details." (Via Al Jazeera

The next step in the study is a clinical trial to replicate Erholtz's results.