- British scientists have stopped the growth of incurable
cancers by injecting a virus directly into brain tumours. The treatment,
still in its trial stages, has added years to the lives of at least three
patients who had been given just months to live, writes <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.orgSenay
- Professor Moira Brown, a neuroscientist at the Southern
General hospital, Glasgow, discovered that a modified form of the herpes
simplex virus can destroy tumour cells but leave normal tissue unharmed.
- After 10 years of laboratory tests, her team injected
the virus into the tumours of 18 volunteers suffering from brain cancer.
- Robert Swan, 25, from Glasgow, was the team's first volunteer.
In 1996 he was diagnosed with an untreatable glioma, the most severe form
of brain tumour, and was given four months to live.
- He had suffered headaches and short-term memory loss,
begun to lose his speech and was paralysed down his right side.
- Four years later, his condition has improved. "I
have been better ever since I had the treatment," he said.
- Two other patients diagnosed with incurable brain cancer
are also alive. Tests on five patients with severe melanoma, a skin cancer,
are promising and Brown hopes the virus will treat cancers of the head,
neck, prostate and ovaries.
- The team is financed by the Scottish health department,
the Cancer Research Campaign and a venture capital company.
- Extra funding is being sought for a third round of trials
and it is hoped that the vaccine will become available throughout the world
within five years.
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