Expatriates undergoing chemotherapy paid for with international private medical insurance policies may soon be infected with a virus that has been found to boost the effectiveness of this treatment in some individuals.
This is following on from an early stage trial, which was published in Clinical Cancer Research and led by Dr Kevin Harrington and colleagues at St James's Hospital in Leeds and the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.
Reovirus type 3 Dearing has been used to develop RT3D, which has a trade name of Reolysin and was created by Oncolytics Biotech.
The virus is found in the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts of almost every adult and does not cause any symptoms.
RT3D will not grow in normal cells but can live in certain cancers and is known to kill them.
Dr Harrington utilised it in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin – two chemotherapeutic compounds – in 31 patients with advanced tumours that were not responding to traditional treatments.
Around one-third of the participants had their cancers shrink, with another third realising stability in their condition. All signs of the ailment disappeared in one individual.
"We saw really very impressive response rates in these patients. These are patients whose cancers had grown despite a great deal of previous treatment, including platinum-based chemotherapy for many," Dr Harrington pointed out.
He said a randomised phase three study has now commenced, in which every patient will be given chemotherapy and half will also receive Reolysin.
Paclitaxel and carboplatin will be provided to these individuals alongside the biological agent, with some participants being given a placebo.
It will be double-blind and will deal with people who have already received platinum-based chemotherapy.
This will involve men and women with advanced cancers of the head and neck, the specialist noted, adding: "We are extremely excited about this progress."
Previous investigations into RT3D found it seemed to boost the effects of taxane and platin-based chemotherapy but had limited use on its own.