The results of a small study have led researchers to suggest that a strain of the virus that causes the common cold can infect and destroy bladder cancer, via the BBC.
A research team from the University of Surrey claim the virus could possibly "help revolutionize treatment" for the cancer and help lessen the chances of it recurring.
This is all based on cancer cells disappearing completely in one patient, while evidence of cells dying in 14 other patients showed up. While there's the need for a larger study and additional research, a bladder cancer charity has called the initial undertaking "very exciting" as it hopes for confirmation from a bigger patient sample.
Non-muscle invasive bladder cancer is the 10th most common type of cancer in the United Kingdom and around 10,000 new cases arise each year. Unfortunately, the treatments available for this particular disease are invasive and can cause serious side effects.
The study saw 15 patients with cancer administered the coxsackievirus (CVA21) via a catheter one week before tumor removal surgery. Following the surgery, tissue samples were analyzed and it was discovered that the virus had targeted and killed cancer cells in the organ. The virus reproduced once these cells died and attacked other cancerous cells but left healthy cells untouched.
"The virus gets inside cancer cells and kills them by triggering an immune protein - and that leads to signaling of other immune cells to come and join the party," Professor Hardev Pandha from the University of Surrey and Royal Surrey County Hospital explained.
Tumors in the bladder are cold under normal circumstances as they do not have immune cells to fend off cancer. However, the cold virus gets them hot, causing the body's immune system to switch on and react.
"Reduction of tumor burden and increased cancer cell death was observed in all patients, and removed all trace of the disease in one patient following just one week of treatment, showing its potential effectiveness," Pandha added.
"Notably, no significant side effects were observed in any patient."
The cold virus has also been tested on skin cancer in the past but this latest study prompted the first for bladder cancer.