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Fighting breast cancer

A combination of oncolytic viruses and checkpoint inhibitors could be more successful than traditional treatments in fighting breast cancer, and possibly other cancers too.

Triple negative breast cancer cell

The claim comes in a paper focused on triple negative breast cancer – the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat breast cancer.

The researchers studied three mouse models of triple negative breast cancer, and found that all were resistant to a checkpoint inhibitor, which is commonly used to treat other kinds of cancer.

They also found that while an oncolytic virus called Maraba could replicate inside these cancers and help the mouse’s immune system recognise and attack the cancer, the virus alone had minimal impact on overall survival.

The researchers then tested the virus and checkpoint inhibitor together in models that mimic the metastatic spread of breast cancer after surgery, which is very common in patients.

They found that this combination cured 60% to 90% of the mice, compared to zero for the checkpoint inhibitor alone, and 20% to 30% for the virus alone. In these models, the virus was given before the surgery and the checkpoint inhibitor was given after.

The study was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.  

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Picture credit | Science Photo Library

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