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PUBLIC PAGE
Thu, May 25, 2017 10:30am

Measles Virus as a Cancer Fighter

By Mayo Clinic Hematology Staff, @mayoclinichematologystaff

What would your reaction be if your medical provider told you your only treatment option left was to be injected with a high dosage of the deadly measles virus?

Stacy Erholtz battled multiple myeloma for 10 years, undergoing multiple chemotherapies and two stem-cell transplants only to relapse each time. Just as she ran out of treatment options, her doctors at Mayo Clinic suggested a radical treatment, a single high dose of the measles virus.

"It's a very simple concept," Stephen Russell, M.D., Molecular Medicine says. "Viruses naturally come in to the body and destroy tissue."

The concept was in development for more than a decade, when finally, researchers say the final breakthrough came in the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center's gene and virus therapy lab when they figured out how to make large concentrations of virtually the same strain of virus used for vaccines.

Gene and virus lab worker - measles virus therapy

A gene and virus therapy lab worker working with the measles virus for a multiple myeloma treatment.

Turning a dangerous virus in to a cancer fighter sounds frightening, but battling cancer can be far more scary.

"I received enough, apparently, to vaccinate 100 million people, which was alarming, but I was happy to hear that after the fact I was in remission," Erholtz says.

This breakthrough, according to some physicians, is changing the game.

"We recently have begun to think about the idea of a one shot cure for cancer," Dr. Russell says. "That is our goal with this therapy."

Original story courtesy of the Mayo Clinic News Network

Does it work on all kind of cancers? If somebody has had measles in childhood, does it make any difference? Have you tried this genious treatment in any other country like Sweden?

@saltis

Does it work on all kind of cancers? If somebody has had measles in childhood, does it make any difference? Have you tried this genious treatment in any other country like Sweden?

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Hello @saltis, here is a link to the Gene and Virus Therapy website for Mayo Clinic where you can do a bit more exploring while I also search for some updated research on the specific measles virus as a cancer fighter, https://mayocl.in/2z6ETqF.

@saltis, if you don't mind sharing, is there a particular cancer that interests you?

Hi Justin,
Thank you for your answer. I have breast cancer which has spread to my chest, too. Just wondering in case there is something which my oncology team has not yet tried. I am the lucky one who have survived cancer in 23 years and am now on Capecitabine tabletts daily. I was receiving 2500 mg/day but now am taking only 1000 because of side-effects.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
/roya

@saltis

Does it work on all kind of cancers? If somebody has had measles in childhood, does it make any difference? Have you tried this genious treatment in any other country like Sweden?

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I have a rare form of leukemia known asB-PLL. I would like more about it. Has anyone had any experience with it? The chemo being pumped into my vein 2 days a month was making me into a zombie;so I chose to stop about 3 months ago.I look and feel better. who knows how much less time I have subtracted from my life,but it was worth it so far. The Internet suggests a life expectancy of 3 yrs.; I have had it close to 6 yrs.BARBARA

@saltis

Does it work on all kind of cancers? If somebody has had measles in childhood, does it make any difference? Have you tried this genious treatment in any other country like Sweden?

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Welcome to Connect, @bflattenor.
It must be a challenge to find others who have B cell prolymphocytic leukemia (B-PLL), given that it is such a rare type. I'd like to invite you to start a new discussion in the Blood Cancers & Disorders group here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/blood-cancers-disorders/tab/discussions/ and get you connected with others living with leukemia.

This is really beyond a brilliant form of treatment. God I wish it was around when my secretary had multiple myleoma. It has been about 15 years, since she passed away from this disease. Back then the most advanced treatment available was Thalidomide. This drug put Geradine Ferraro's cancer in remission. Sadly it did not work for my secretary Dorie. Praying this new advancement will eventually stop all cancers in their place. Mayo Clinic is the BEST…..

I have head and neck cancer squamous cell carcinoma. I’ve had five rounds of chemo and two rounds of radiation and two radical flap surgeries. I’ve lost a lot of feeling in my face and the ability to eat by mouth. I also have chemo induced neuropathy. Can you help me? Please.

Hi @bennettgordon, welcome to Connect. There is a group here specifically for people with head and neck cancer. See all the discussions here:
> Groups > Head & Neck Cancer > https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/head-neck-cancer/

To help you get started, I suggest reading in one of these discussions and posting a reply:
> Groups > Head & Neck Cancer > squamous cell in throat > https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/squamous-cell-in-throat/
> Groups > Head & Neck Cancer > Meet others living with Head & Neck Cancer – Come introduce yourself https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/meet-others-living-with-head-neck-cancer-come-introduce-yourself/

There is a group dedicated to all types of Neuropathy:
> Groups > Neuropathy > https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/neuropathy/

Here's a discussion specifically about chemo-induced neuropathy
> Groups > Cancer > Does anyone have a treatment for Neuropathy due to chemo https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/does-anyone-have-a-treatment-for-nueropathy-due-to-chemo/

Does this work on MDS/AML? Has it been tried? Why do clinical trials only get done after years of chemo and radiation which just further destroy your health and imune system? Could you not treat recent diagnosis patients also?

@bennettgordon

I have head and neck cancer squamous cell carcinoma. I’ve had five rounds of chemo and two rounds of radiation and two radical flap surgeries. I’ve lost a lot of feeling in my face and the ability to eat by mouth. I also have chemo induced neuropathy. Can you help me? Please.

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Your situation sounds just like mine. I had two radical flap surgeries, followed by 33 radiation treatments, cetuximab, immunotherapy (unsuccessful) and now chemotherapy (carboplatin). If you find anything out about the clinical trial with the measles virus, or if you just want to talk to someone similarly situated, I'd sure like to hear it.

I have a close friend who has been fighting ovarian cancer for three years. She has been through several types of chemo. Doctors have told her they cannot do anymore. Hospice has been called in. She is in bad shape unable to eat and barely sipping water, but coherent. Is it too late to try this measles virus approach? If not, who do we contact in the Tyler and Dallas, Texas area who could administer this treatment?
Second question: Why are patients in her situation not automatically given a list of this type of new options to try even if they haven't been FDA approved, before giving up on them? They should be given a choice (sign a waiver or whatever).
So heartbreaking to watch her suffer through this.

@rickmacgurn

Does this work on MDS/AML? Has it been tried? Why do clinical trials only get done after years of chemo and radiation which just further destroy your health and imune system? Could you not treat recent diagnosis patients also?

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Hi @rickmacgurn, welcome to Connect. You bring up some good questions, but harder ones to answer. Clinical trials often have rigorous inclusion and exclusion criteria and are typically not resorted to until FDA approved treatments have all failed. I am not a medical professional and cannot speak to the specifics about treatment and diagnoses. Research with the measles virus is still ongoing.

If you'd like to meet some other members talking about living with MDS, here are some discussions you could look through:

https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mds/
https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/melodysplastic-syndrome-unspecified-myelofibroisis-1/

@margem

I have a close friend who has been fighting ovarian cancer for three years. She has been through several types of chemo. Doctors have told her they cannot do anymore. Hospice has been called in. She is in bad shape unable to eat and barely sipping water, but coherent. Is it too late to try this measles virus approach? If not, who do we contact in the Tyler and Dallas, Texas area who could administer this treatment?
Second question: Why are patients in her situation not automatically given a list of this type of new options to try even if they haven't been FDA approved, before giving up on them? They should be given a choice (sign a waiver or whatever).
So heartbreaking to watch her suffer through this.

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Welcome to Connect @margem. It is difficult to hear about or watch a friend go through a tough diagnosis. Sometimes, it is almost easier to deal with when you are facing a health concern or diagnosis for yourself because you know how to cope and what exactly needs to be done that is best for you. I have a rare genetic bleeding disorder called Hemophilia, and for me, it is easy to cope with at this point, but I would struggle to see close friends or family deal with some of the issues. There is a group that you, or your friend, may want to check out here on Connect that is dedicated to gynecological cancers. You can find that here, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/gynecologic-cancer/. There is also a discussion in that group that specifically talks about the latest chemo treatments in ovarian cancer where members may have some similar experiences to your friend's, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/ovarian-cancer/.

@margem

I have a close friend who has been fighting ovarian cancer for three years. She has been through several types of chemo. Doctors have told her they cannot do anymore. Hospice has been called in. She is in bad shape unable to eat and barely sipping water, but coherent. Is it too late to try this measles virus approach? If not, who do we contact in the Tyler and Dallas, Texas area who could administer this treatment?
Second question: Why are patients in her situation not automatically given a list of this type of new options to try even if they haven't been FDA approved, before giving up on them? They should be given a choice (sign a waiver or whatever).
So heartbreaking to watch her suffer through this.

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@margem Bless you for being there. You are a strong soul. YOur friend is a strong soul. My prayers will be with you as you hold her hand and she goes to heaven. Let God take over. My mom survived Cancer 35 years ago when God was all I had. God Bless Cat

Could you please let me know where we could get more information about this? My brother has glioblastoma

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