Wait… before we go any farther, let’s define two things:
What is an Oncolytic Virus? An Oncolytic Virus is a type of virus that attacks, infects, and kills cancer cells. The cancer cells are killed by a process called Oncolysis, which is the destruction of either neoplastic cells or tumors. As the cancer cells are destroyed, they release new infectious virus particles called Virons, which assist in destroying the rest of the tumor. In essence, it is a virus that kills cancer.
What is Radiotherapy? Radiotherapy is radiation therapy utilizing ionizing radiation. It is used to control or kill malignant cells and has a curative effect if the cancer is localized to one area in the body.
Okay. So researchers have discovered that by combining radiotherapy together with the oncolytic virus “RT3D” melanoma cells were killed in experiments conducted with mice better than either treatment administered by itself. The inspiration for this experimental treatment came about via the success that has been found in using other oncolytic viruses against cancer, such as the Talimogene Laherparepvec Virus.
There have been several research studies over the years using oncolytic viruses to destroy cancer showing that the RetroVirus Type-3 Dearing (which is also known as RT3D) in combination with other drugs is effective in regards to “solid” tumors as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck.
Melanoma is a notoriously difficult cancer when it comes to treatment; in particular, once it has spread from its area of origin. Thus stopping Melanoma in its tracks is paramount — and doing so as fast as possible. Individually both Radiotherapy and RT3D have been effective against Melanoma, but once it was discovered that RT3D cells were able to survive doses of radiation, it gave the scientists the idea of combining the two treatments.
According to the study published in Oncotarget, scientists originally began testing regiments of Radiotherapy and Oncolytic Viruses on their own. Once they had garnered those results, they began combining the treatments and applying that combined treatment to three separate types of Melanoma cell strains.
Once results were confirmed in the lab, the experiments were then transferred to testing with mice that had Melanoma. The results were tumor shrinkage of a higher rate that either Radiotherapy or Oncolytic Viruses on their own. It also resulted in those mice treated with combination of the two therapies outliving the mice that received only one of therapies on its own.
In the end, the study purports that combining Radiotherapy with Oncolytic Viruses creates a new and effective treatment for Melanoma.