Ohio State University Testing Virus Therapy To Battle Ovarian Cancer


UPDATED: Monday October 7, 2013 6:53 PM

This is the time of year when cold and stomach virus make their way through the community.

Doctors at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are using one of those viruses as medicine to change it into a cancer killer.

Inside this OSU center, Nancy Bennett is getting treated for ovarian cancer.  The Reynoldsburg woman was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer two and a half years ago.  The diagnosis shocked her.

"It was difficult," she said.  "It was really hard.  And then everything just happened so fast after that."

Her children persuaded her to seek help at the OSU James Cancer Center.  After surgery, Bennett joined a clinical trial for a new treatment.  

It's called Reolysin.  

Doctors re-programmed a common stomach virus in a lab to fight ovarian cancer.  

The virus then seeks out the cancer cells and attacks them, while leaving healthy cells alone. Dr. David Cohn, OSU Gynecologic  Cancer Director said that he hopes the national trial not only proves Reolysin does a better job of treating patients like Bennett, but that it also makes treatment easier on them.

"We're used to traditional chemotherapy with hair loss and nausea and tiredness. This virus is very well tolerated and it's hoped that with improved treatments, that we may find that patients do better without the side effects of traditional chemotherapy," Dr. Cohn said.

"If it turns out the reo virus improves that chance of controlling the cancer, the next step would be to figure out in which patients the therapy is most effective," he said.

He said that it's a novel way to attack cancer.

Bennett is rooting for the virus to succeed.

"My hope is that it will help not just me, but lots and lots of other women, too," she said.

OSU is still enrolling ovarian cancer patients, who need their doctor's recommendation to join.  Dr. Cohn said that he expects results in about two years.

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