Soon, researchers hope to blow up cancer cells in order to eradicate them and cure cancer. (Source: Penn State News)
While we get cancer cures in the news all the time, this particular method has to be the most fun cancer cure. Researchers in Ottawa have discovered a method of using a viral particle to attack and destroy cancer cells, in this case acute leukemia. What makes this particular method fun is that it results in the cancer cells blowing up, or exploding, "like popcorn." Furthermore, this explosive method of curing cancer has been so successful in initial trials, that human clinical trials will likely begin in just a few short years.
This method of curing cancer was devised by researchers at the Ottawa Hospital, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and the University of Ottawa, and was published in the Blood Cancer Journal, a periodical attached to elite journal Nature, last month. Titled "Non-replicating rhabdovirus-derived particles (NRRPs) eradicate acute leukemia by direct cytolysis and induction of antitumor immunity," the researchers genetically engineered a viral particle to target and attack leukemia cells in lab mice.
The viral particle attacked the cancer cells' membranes, causing them to deteriorate and disintegrate within a day of injection. Once the membranes collapse, the cancer cells exploded, leaving cellular debris everywhere. The subsequent clean up eventually triggers a response from the immune system that allows it to attack cancer cells on its own. This, in turn, leads to curing the cancer.
Within three treatments of this method, 60% of lab mice were cured of acute leukemia with no side effects, with 80% having vastly improved survival prospects. Because the viral particles are not full-fledged viruses, they deliver no viral payload, thus no sickness can occur. The treatment is not only potent, but safe, according to researchers. The resulting study caused a scene at a cancer conference in Quebec recently.
Now, to be fair, the explosive cancer cure still leaves unanswered questions. The cancer in question, leukemia, is a blood, and thus liquid, cancer. It remains to be seen how more solid cancers would react to this sort of treatment. Furthermore, it is uncertain how most leukemia patients, who often only detect it in the late stages, will be able to be treated this way, since their immune systems are far weaker by the time they are being treated. However, the success rate in initial trials means we will likely find this out sooner rather than later.