Polio virus engineered to kill brain tumor

DUKE (US) — A modified polio virus appears to be effective in attacking glioblastoma brain tumor cells, researchers report in an early study to establish proper dosing levels.

Tested in an ongoing phase 1 study, the treatment capitalizes on the discovery that cancer cells have an abundance of receptors that work like magnets drawing the polio virus, which then infects and kills the cells.

The investigational therapy, known as PVSRIPO, uses an engineered form of the virus that is lethal to cancer cells, while harmless to normal cells.

Infused directly into the patient’s tumor, the virus-based therapy also triggers the body’s immune fighters to launch an attack against the infected tumor cells.

Preliminary data, presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, previews the results of seven patients enrolled in the study whose tumors reoccurred despite traditional treatments for glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and aggressive brain tumor.

Of the patients enrolled in the study, three have responded well to the drug. One patient remains disease-free 12 months after treatment, another 11 months post-treatment and the third is disease-free after five months.

With traditional treatment, about half of glioblastoma patients see recurrent tumor growth within eight weeks.

Two patients in the study did not fair as well; one had recurrent tumor growth after two months, and another’s condition declined after four months. The remaining two patients have been treated in the last three and two months, respectively, and currently remain disease free.

“These early results are intriguing,” says Annick Desjardins, principal investigator and associate professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine.

“Current therapies for glioblastoma are limited because they cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and often do not specifically attack the tumor. This treatment appears to overcome those problems. We are eager to see additional results as we move forward with our study.”

Source: Duke University

chat12 Comments


  1. Gary Clyne

    Thanks you Dr. Jonas Salk!

  2. Lina Rapone

    Good day your seems promising thank you for giving us hope my son Steve n was diagnosed with gbm multiforme 2009 September he had 2 surgeries so far and is currely on Avastin what you r doing seems interesting pleAse keep me updated


    My dad is diagnosed with GBM and undergone surgery for excision, also has completed Radiation and Chemo( TMZ 270) but we have recurrence. Please help. I can die for my dad, but cant see him die….please help please help

  4. A Boyle

    Duke recently installed a very advanced intraoperative MRI in the neurosurgery OR which is used during brain tumor procedures. The MRI technology makes the invasive brain tumor easier to see during surgery. Is this technology used to help the study team target where to deliver the virus?

  5. susana flores

    My brother was diagnose with GBM 4. Is currently on radiation and chimiotherapy. is there any other tretament as the Polio virus we can get for him. Please help

  6. Carol shell

    My husband had polio as a child now has post polio syndrome he is 67 and diagnosed with stage 3 glioblasroma astro non operable in left temporal lobe. Any chance of polio trial.

  7. robin randazzo

    My wife had surgery and has been diagnosed stage 4 brain cancer can she receive the polio virus 1st before chemo and radiation

  8. CharleneThgompson

    What is the criteria to be eligible for the study?


    Have long time prostate cancer, 2000- present.
    100% disabled veteran under Care at the V.A. MEDICAL HOSPITAL- LONG BEACH. CA. I read about the use of the POLIOVIRUS treatment on cancer tumors at Duke University Medical Center. Are use doing this therapy for prostate cancer? Living with the theatrical of my current treatment failure is a constent worry to me and my family. Please let me know if you are doing research and or practicing this type therapy for the prostate cancer.

  10. Robert Celella

    I have been diagnosed with stage 3 non small cell cancer. I would like to try the polio virus if it is available. I am scheduled to have radiation and chemo, but that doesn’t offer much help.

  11. Deirdre Lewis

    my neighbor has brain cancer and I am sure the polio therapy would help/cure him. He is more than eager to try. Pleas help

  12. William Young

    My best friend from childhood has a brain tumor. How can he get this treatment?

We respect your privacy.