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Measles virus used to treat bone marrow cancer

Could getting the measles be a good thing? It is for a woman with bone marrow cancer, who has been in remission for six months after being treated with measles, reported by Reuters Health on Thursday.

Stacey Erholtz's cancer in remission for six months.
Mayo Clinic

Two trial subjects, a 49-year-old woman and a 65-year-old woman, were given a heavy dose of measles virus intravenously to fight their multiple myeloma. Multiple Myeloma is a bone marrow cancer that can also cause skeletal or soft tissue tumors.

Patient Stacey Erholtz of Minnesota didn’t respond to traditional treatments or stem cells. When she entered in the experimental trial, researchers say she experienced remission for more than six months.

"I think it’s remarkable," Erholtz said.

Dr. Stephen Russell, a hematologist at the Mayo Clinic, treated Erholtz and the other patient, whose response to the treatment was more short-lived.

Russell told Reuters Health, "We have an enormous amount of work to do to determine if this is generalizable and how to best apply the approach to other cancer patients. We haven’t discovered a cure for cancer here."

Russell and his team tell how they gave the two women very high doses of the measles vaccine engineered to kill cancer.

Russell says, "It was single intravenous infusion of measles virus. The tumor on her forehead regressed completely. The other lesions that were visible on her PET CT scan disappeared completely."

Four other patients who were treated did not respond.

The Mayo Clinic is planning a larger clinical trial. If those results are positive and the response lasts then regulators could consider approving it.

Geraldine Ferraro died of Multiple Myeloma three years ago. In February Tom Brokaw revealed he was battling Multiple Myeloma

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