Sometimes a sarcoma doesn’t cause significant symptoms until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Once that occurs, treatment options are limited. But now researchers are testing a novel treatment for sarcoma, called REOLYSIN®.
REOLYSIN is made up of a naturally-occurring virus, called the human reovirus, that’s found in the respiratory and digestive tracts. The virus is generally harmless and most people have had exposure to the virus by adulthood.
EOLYSIN is given intravenously for five consecutive days every four weeks. Once in the body, the virus enters the cells. Normal cells attack and eliminate the virus, just like they would attack any infectious agent in the body. However, up to 80 percent of cancer cells lack the ability to eliminate the virus. So the virus enters the cancer cells, where it replicates and eventually kills the cells. In addition, as the cancer cells break down, the replicating virus cells go on to attack surrounding cancer cells.
Currently, REOLYSIN is in a Phase II study for patients with stage 4 sarcoma that has spread to the lungs. Monica Mita, M.D., Medical Oncologist, with The Cancer Therapy and Research Center/UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, says so far, researchers have found the treatment is well tolerated. Side effects are mild and include fever, chills and slight nausea. Most patients feel better by the end of a treatment cycle and are back to regular activities by the next week.
Mita cautions REOLYSIN is not a cure for stage 4 sarcoma. However, it does appear to stabilize the disease (the tumor neither shrinks nor enlarges) and may improve a patient’s quality of life. In the future, doctors would like to combine chemotherapy agents with REOLYSIN to determine if both treatments will lead to a better outcome.
In addition to the Cancer Therapy and Research Center/ UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, REOLYSIN is being tested at the Montifiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center in Ann Arbor. A total of 52 patients will be enrolled from throughout the country. The manufacturer is also looking at REOLYSIN for several other types of cancers in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom.
For more information about REOLYSIN® or the trial, log onto http://www.oncolyticsbiotech.com/tech.html . Information is also available at http://www.clinicaltrials.gov . From the main page, type the trial identification number in the search box: NCT00503295.