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Measles Virus Put Woman's Cancer into Remission

WebMD News from HealthDay

May 16, 2014 -- A highly concentrated dose of measles virus has put a woman's incurable cancer into remission, according to researchers.

Stacy Erholtz, 49, had undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy and stem cell transplants to treat the blood cancer multiple myeloma, but she suffered relapses every time, CNN reported.

Mayo Clinic scientists gave Erholtz and five other multiple myeloma patients a highly-concentrated dose of lab-engineered measles virus. Erholtz was cancer-free for nine months after receiving the measles virus.

None of the other patients in the study went into remission, and doctors recently used radiation therapy to treat a small tumor in Erholtz's body, CNN reported.

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

The researchers noted that thousands of other cancer patients have been treated with viruses, but this is the first time that remission has occurred in a patient with cancer throughout the body, CNN reported.

"I think we succeeded because we pushed the dose higher than others have pushed it," Russell said. "And I think that is critical. The amount of virus that's in the bloodstream really is the driver of how much gets into the tumors."

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