Not a breakthrough in cancer but rather on the ground evidence in humans that a new method of treatment may work.
Stacy Erholtz was out of conventional treatment options for blood cancer last June when she underwent an experimental trial at the Mayo Clinic that injected her with enough measles vaccine to inoculate 10 million people.
The 50-year-old Pequot Lakes mother is now part of medical history.
The cancer, which had spread widely through her body, went into complete remission and was undetectable in Erholtz’s body after just one dose of the measles vaccine, which has an uncanny affinity for certain kinds of tumors.
Erholtz was one of just two subjects in the experiment and the only one to achieve complete remission. But the experiment provides the “proof of concept” that a single, massive dose of intravenous viral therapy can kill cancer by overwhelming its natural defenses, according to Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine who spearheaded the research at Mayo.
The article goes on (is a two-pager) to describe how doctors have known that viruses can be used to fight tumors. It’s been successful in mice but not demonstrated in humans. There is much more to learn. It didn’t always work. Researchers think that the nature of the tumor affects how well the virus will kill it. But the dose can be increased, bombarding the patient with infectious units.
So, not only is this a potentially huge gain in treatment options but what does it say about those nonsensical rantings of the anti-vax crowd. We may be able to repurpose vaccines for a second giant health step forward. Although it’s hard to outdo their real worth, preventing millions and millions of deaths (mostly children) from infectious disease, this is a really cool finding. We’ll have to stay tuned to the randomized clinical trials to see if it continues to yield positive results.