• By Dana Sparks

Discovery’s Edge: Enemy of my Enemy

July 4, 2017

Discovery's Edge CDC image of the measles virusMeasles has long been our enemy but with modification it transforms into a weapon against ovarian cancer.

Rene Maleski knew it was bad news when the young ultrasound tech who was scanning her abdomen suddenly stopped and left the room, crying. The technician returned a few minutes later to tell Maleski she would need to see the radiologist that day, and she should probably bring her husband with her. That afternoon, Maleski came face to face with her new reality: the pelvic scan showed tumors covering her ovaries, climbing up her aorta, and invading her lymph nodes. She had stage-three ovarian cancer.

Within days, the mother of five was on the operating table, as doctors laboriously removed every tumor. She endured 18 rounds of chemotherapy, and for a time that was enough. But within two years, the cancer was back. “It was very disappointing,” said Maleski. “I realized that I was probably going to die from cancer.”

Then her doctor suggested they try something outlandish – an injection of the measles. Maleski didn’t hesitate. A healthy eater, she had struggled mentally with chemotherapy and the thought of purposely “dumping major toxins into your body.” She was willing to try anything to avoid more chemo.

Maleski is one of hundreds of patients who have received cancer-killing viruses in over 25 different clinical trials at the Mayo Clinic. When she was first diagnosed, her CA125 levels — a standard biomarker of ovarian cancer – were 1600. While she was on the measles trial, those levels dropped to 4 (anything below 35 is considered normal). The dramatic results stem from almost a quarter of century of studies at Mayo, one of the oldest virotherapy programs in the world. Read the rest of the article.
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