Oncolytic virotherapy used on patients with stage 4 multiple myeloma suggest that, at least for some patients, it is possible to survive stage 4 or “end-stage” multiple myeloma. Mayo Clinic researchers using laboratory-engineered measles viruses reported a high percentage of tumor regression in clinical trials in 2014.
Oncolytic viruses, or viruses designed to target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells unharmed, is changing the face of cancer treatment and has shown remarkable results. Mayo Clinic data from clinical trials conducted on two patients with stage 4 multiple myeloma, patients who were unresponsive to traditional treatments, showed that within six weeks of a single high dose of the engineered MV-NIS measles vaccine, patients responded with a reduction in myeloma protein and bone marrow cancer. One patient had a tumor that completely regressed and lesions that completely disappeared. She remained cancer free six months after treatment when her bone marrow was re-checked. The other patient experienced significant remission, something unheard of with patients at the end-stage of this disease.
Unlike traditional methods used to kill cancer cells, engineered measles viruses that are selectively toxic to myeloma plasma cells are used to stimulate the immune system. This allows the body to destroy cancer cells, all without the side effects of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, notes Mayo Clinic.