With the number of cases rising every day, cancer remains to be one of the deadliest diseases affecting the population. The big ‘C’ word, often arising out of genetic problems or lifestyle disorders can turn your life around and prove to be very harmful. In India alone, a study by the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research on Cancer shows that 11,57,294 lakh new cases are registered in India every year, and 7,84,821 people succumbed to the disease in 2018. With no cure for the disease found yet, the risk for cancer only grows by a margin.

However, in what can be termed as a positive development, a group of scientists may have just come close to finding a cure for cancer by developing a viral drug that might hold the potential to kill the toughest of cancer cells and shrink the tumours. If this works, it might as well be scientific breakthrough doctors and patients have been waiting for.

The study

Scientists based out of America have created a certain kind of viral strain (cowpox) which shows a possible benefit to completely cure cancer. The treatment, which has been called ‘CF33’, if holds true, promises to kill every type of cancer cell in a petri dish and has also been claimed to completely kill or shrink tumours in mice. Studies and trials are currently underway to confirm the developments.

The treatment for the cancer cure, which is perhaps one of the largest till date has been greenlighted by Professor Yuman Fong, a US-based cancer expert. The treatment is meanwhile being developed in Australia.

Amongst the first studies for the efficacy of the treatment plan would be patients diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, lung cancer, bladder, bowel, and gastric cancer. Melanoma patients could come under diagnosis too. This phase is what the scientists involved in the study are hailing as the ‘basket study’.

How will this work?

The cure has been worked around a virus that is responsible for the spread of a common cold. In the past, the same virus was studied and turned into a treatment plan for a group of brain cancer patients in the United States. The study saw minor success, with some patients reporting that cancer disappeared for years, while some said that their tumours shrunk following the clinical trial.

Scientists say that a certain type of virus, known as ‘Imlygic’, or T-vec has also been found to treat melanoma and further helped the body by stopping the immune cells from attacking the system and destroying cancerous cells in the body.

Coupled with this, Professor Fong, involved in the study said that cowpox, which has been termed as a harmless virus, testing has found that this new and improved strain of the virus could work towards killing cancerous cells from the root. For the treatment, patients would be injected with the strain directly into the tumours to see the cure in action.

Adding to this, the scientists hope that the engineered strain would be able to effectively kill the cancer cells and make them explode, at the same time, alerting the immune system in the body to recognise future attacks and possible malignant cells and get rid of them. If this treatment plan works and shows results as it is hoped, a cure for cancer could be ready soon.

In the past, while scientists have not worked towards finding a targeted cure like this, various studies conducted have aimed at the effectivity of alternate drugs and therapies in treating cancer. One such study conducted at the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow researched the effects of common and inexpensive leprosy treating drugs in treating myeloma, a type of blood cancer. Some researches are also studying the potency and benefits of using certain classes of drugs, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) to replace chemotherapy, which is commonly used to target the malignant cancer cells.

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