Measles vaccine sent cancer into remission. Take that anti-vaxxers!

Not a breakthrough in cancer but rather on the ground evidence in humans that a new method of treatment may work.

Mayo Clinic trial: Massive blast of measles vaccine wipes out cancer | Star Tribune.

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.

  6 comments for “Measles vaccine sent cancer into remission. Take that anti-vaxxers!

  1. May 15, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    Wow! Just, wow! I always wonder with these apparently serendipitous discoveries: who thought of trying that? What led them to even think of it?

    And yes, the irony meter is way off the scale. Megadoses of vitamin C definitely do not cure cancer, but megadoses of vaccine? You really could not make it up!

  2. Will
    May 16, 2014 at 7:55 AM

    Sample size of two? That’s a rather under abundance of data for anyone to be optimistic for this being a new treatment. More study is definitely warranted. We skeptics chastise others for reading too much into papers with small sample sizes and yet this news report is doing just that.

  3. May 16, 2014 at 8:30 AM

    There is a slight difference. This is a proof of concept as they mentioned. It is another step from hypothesis through animal trials. As I said the RCTs will tell us but there is a lot to learn. It IS promising because it was done by qualified individuals, not quacks claiming a miracle cure. It is treated with appropriate skepticism.

  4. Bob Blaskiewicz
    May 16, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    I saw that on the cover of the local paper at the grocery store and stopped dead in my tracks to read it.

  5. Will
    May 16, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    I might be splitting hairs now but even the title was a bit declarative. “Measles vaccine sent cancer into remission” Do we know for sure it was the vaccine that sent the cancer into remission? Could it just have been a spontaneous remission? Or something else? We can’t tell with a sample size of two! With more confirmation perhaps a title like that may be appropriate. Stuff like this plagues scientific reporting.

  6. May 16, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    As I said, this is not some woo-woo idea that someone is claiming is a miracle cure. There is a difference here and I explain the reasons why it’s hopeful but not a “breakthrough”, that much needs to be learned.

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