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Mayo Clinic measles vaccine: Measles virus put woman's cancer in remission

The measles virus used as cancer treatment incredibly put a woman’s incurable cancer into remission. Doctors created a highly concentrated dose of the measles virus and it was administered to a woman who has been battling multiple myeloma for 10 years, Stacy Erholtz is in remission from this cancer of the blood, according to CNN News on May 15.

Measles virus kills cancer cells, puts woman with incurable cancer into remission.
Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Erholtz had been treated with countless rounds of the different types of chemotherapy that are used to treat this incurable cancer just to have the disease return again and again. Her doctors at the Mayo Clinic have performed stem cell transplants on two occasions and again she relapsed.

According to USA Today, Erholtz said she decided to go for this trial because she was of the mindset that she didn’t have any options left, so “why wouldn’t I do it?” She also said it was the easiest of the treatments that she has undergone so far and it came with very few side effects.

Erholtz who was one of two patients who received the concentrated measles virus dose last year. The measles virus she was treated with was similar to the measles vaccine and she received enough of the virus to vaccinate about 10 million people The lead doctor on the study, Dr. Stephen Russell said:

"The idea here is that a virus can be trained to specifically damage a cancer and to leave other tissues in the body unharmed.”

This has been done before, said Russell. It is called virothearpy and this concept has been used before with other viruses, but this is the first time it achieved results of this magnitude. Never before has this virothearpy put a patient into remission whose cancer had spread throughout their entire body.

“Fox and Friends” live on Friday morning are calling this a “miracle” while it is too early to make a claim of a cancer cure, the possibility of this happening sometime in the future is not far-fetched. So far Erholts has been cancer free for six-months. She was the only one of the two patients to reach full-remission. The other patient’s cancer returned in nine-months.

Russell credits the success with how his team “pushed this dose higher than others have pushed it” in the past. The amount of virus in the blood stream is crucial, as the amount of the virus going into the bloodstream is critical to the amount of virus getting into the tumors.

Mayo Clinical researcher Dr. Angela Diapenzieri explains how this works in simple layman’s terms saying; “The measles virus makes the cells join together and explode.” She said that there is also evidence that suggests that the virus is “stimulating the patient’s immune system.” This helps it recognize any recurring cancer cells and “mop it up.”

Explaining the way the measles virus works in this concept really helps the average person understand why and how this works. While the results are extremely exciting so far, this treatment is still in the early stages, so it is not something that will be available in the near future.

The virus worked on the multiple myeloma patients, but the researchers don’t know if it will work on other types of cancers. Researchers are creating more of this highly concentrated measles virus for a larger scaled trial at the Mayo Clinic.

The researchers have developed a way to manufacture large amounts of the virus. What does this mean for the future? Russell claims:

"We recently have begun to think about the idea of a single shot cure for cancer -- and that's our goal with this therapy."

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