Using a Virus to Kill Cancer Cells

There are viruses that can selectively infect and replicate in tumor cells, they are known as oncolytic viruses, and are found in nature or can be genetically engineered. As they replicate, they can disintegrate and kill infected tumor cells, the cells burst and the proteins and antigens released can be recognized by the immune system, leading to further death of tumor cells. 

Recently, a group of researchers developed a therapy called Vaxinia that can reduce the size of a broad range of cancers in animal and laboratory models at low doses. 

The phase 1 clinical trial has administered a dose of the experimental anti-cancer drug called CF33-hNIS, or Vaxinia to their first participant. 

Using Viruses to Our Advantage 

The medication was developed by researchers at City of Hope, a cancer research and treatment institute in the U.S. Vaxinia is a genetically modified version of the vaccinia or smallpox virus that, according to researchers, enhances the ability to replicate in tumor cells, facilitating a large immune response against tumor cells. 

The vaccinia virus expresses a protein called human sodium iodide symporter that transports iodide ions into the cells, which can help selectively target tumor cells that accumulate radioactive iodine using radiotherapy. 

The clinical trial is expected to include about 100 cancer patients with metastatic or advanced solid tumors who have previously received at least 2 standard cancer treatments, and it’s main goal is to evaluate its safety and tolerability in humans. 


Deep Shukla. (2022, Jun 2). Cancer-killing virus injected into human for the first time in new clinical trial. Medical News Today. Retrieved from:

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