What are the barriers to using infectious agents for cancer treatment? Elizabeth Tracey reports


Using bacteria and viruses to gain access to cancers in the body has a number of advantages, as several recent studies show. Kimmel Cancer Center director William Nelson at Johns Hopkins says one recent effort to use viruses against prostate cancer demonstrates the limitations.

Nelson: The viruses that were generated to go in and reproduce and kill prostate cancer cells were attenuated so they didn't make people quite as sick.  What they typically did is they went through one cycle of replication, killed a number of prostate cancer cells, got shed into the environment, infected some more, killed them and gradually the immune system snuffed out the virus. So you couldn't get rid of all the prostate cancer because the immune system is pretty good at getting rid of the virus. That fine line between being toxic enough to kill the cancers but not so toxic to kill the person and having the immune system being able to manage it because it's not the toxic I think it's the challenge.  :34

Stay tuned, Nelson says, since research is ongoing. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.