Trial Uses Measles to Kill Bone Marrow Cancer

Researchers look to engineer the virus as treatment for multiple myeloma

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SUNDAY, March 11, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. researchers are launching a phase I clinical trial to test an engineered measles virus against the bone marrow cancer multiple myeloma.

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer where plasma cell tumors are spread throughout bone marrow.

In this trial, conducted at the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center in Rochester, Minn, the measles vaccine will be administered intravenously to adults with relapsed or refractory (meaning patients have failed more than one type of treatment) myeloma. The participants must not have had allogenic (from another person) stem cell transplants and must have previously had the measles or been vaccinated against it.

This is the third in a series of Mayo studies testing the potential of measles to kill cancer. The other two studies are looking at the effect of measles on recurrent ovarian cancer and a type of brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme.

The measles viruses used in the research were engineered by inserting additional genes into the measles vaccine strain. The measles viruses seek out a protein called CD46 -- which is overexpressed by many cancers -- and use it as a receptor to enter the cancer cells.

Once inside the cancer cell, the measles virus spreads and infects nearby tumor cells, causing them to fuse together and increasing cancer cell death.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about multiple myeloma.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, March 5, 2007

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