Children with cancer playing surrounded by treatment equipment

Here is the Exciting Cancer Treatment Using a Plant Virus

Cancer has wreaked havoc worldwide, causing death and devastation right, left, and center. It is a diagnosis that sends chills down the spines of many, considering the prognosis and financial implications.

Often, cancer treatments improve the survival rate for millions, but tumors might still recur. Cancer might also mutate and render common therapy ineffective. People who do not respond well to such treatments have low chances of survival.

However, the cowpea mosaic virus might change all this. It is a plant virus that mostly infects cowpeas and other legumes. It causes a mosaic pattern on the leaves. Although this virus is harmful to plants, it is just what scientists need to engineer a successful cancer treatment.

How Does Cancer Treatment With Cowpea Mosaic Virus Work?

The cowpea mosaic virus has emerged as a strong candidate for cancer immunotherapy. This virus generally cannot infect humans. However, it can trigger a strong immune response that can help destroy cancerous tumors.

The process involves introducing virus nanoparticles into a tumor. This virus’s unique characteristics cause the immune system to identify these particles as foreign matter. As a result, the body attacks and destroys them. In the process, it kills the cancerous cells that contain the small viral particles. In this case, these particles serve as a form of bait. They help the body see a tumor as a harmful agent.

This form of treatment does not solely eliminate the target tumor. It helps the immune system recognize new tumors and destroy them whenever they recur. Researchers have tested this treatment in mice models. Evidence shows that it works well with breast cancer, melanoma, ovarian cancer, glioma, and colon cancer.

The cowpea mosaic virus shows more promise than other plant viruses. A recent study showed this virus had superior outcomes to tobacco ringspot virus and cowpea severe mosaic virus. In this case, the findings meant that the cowpea mosaic virus provoked a more potent anti-tumor immune response.

These special powers come from its ability to activate more receptors and a broader range of cytokines (pro-inflammatory proteins). As a result, this virus causes a stronger immune response than others selected as candidates for this form of cancer treatment. In addition, cancer treatment with this virus remains effective for a longer period. This sustained anti-tumor immunity will certainly help reduce the number of treatment sessions.

A Brief Overview of the Study

Scientist investigating cowpea mosaic virus cancer immunotherapy
Photo by National Cancer Institute

The research work on the cowpea mosaic virus as a candidate for cancer immunotherapy began about seven years ago at the University of California San Diego and Dartmouth College. The scientists behind this exciting treatment recently tested it on mice and dogs. They found that it inhibited tumor growth after just four days. After three doses, this treatment also led to the best survival rate and resulted in the smallest tumor sizes.

The company responsible for this nanotechnology is now working toward clinical applications in humans. The move follows successful validation in mouse and canine models. However, more research is needed to shed light on a few gray areas. In the meantime, there is great promise for cancer patients.

This revolutionary treatment will certainly improve the odds for many cancer patients, including those with metastatic cancer. In any case, it helps kill tumors in all cancer stages and prevent their recurrence. On this note, it will increase survival rates and enable cancer patients to live long, near-normal lives.