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The Polio Vaccine Is Changing How We Treat Cancer

Most Americans have received the polio vaccine. With the US introduction of inoculation in 1955, previous epidemics thankfully came under control. During the 60 years prior, polio had plagued our nation, earning a reputation as the 20th century’s most feared disease. 

Now the virus has resurfaced as the focus of breaking news. Gratefully, its notoriety is in a positive context as the vaccine is now on the front lines of treating cancer. Read on to learn more, presented by Santa Clarita Home Care Assistance.

Dreaded Diseases

Polio and brain cancer share two traits. They’re both life-threatening illnesses that impair the central nervous system. Symptoms can also be similar.

The poliovirus can inflame the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, a condition termed meningitis. Signs of infection include severe headaches and seizures. Polio can also paralyze muscles. 

Likewise, brain cancer is characterized by progressive headaches, seizures, and muscle weakness of the arms and legs. Balance and coordination deteriorate. Malignant brain tumors grow quickly, wreaking havoc on the rest of the body when they metastasize.

Cancer Immunotherapy

In 2015, Duke University Medical Center began experimenting with the polio virus as a form of immunotherapy for prostate cancer. Replicating Dr. Salk’s method, scientists created a modified virus. The guiding theory was that the organism would prompt immune cells to destroy cancerous tissue. 

Cancer evades the immune system’s radar by wearing a protective shield, making it invisible. The poliovirus eliminates this shield, enabling immune cells to detect malignancies and destroy them.

Testing the Premise

Last year, the technique showed promise during initial tests with glioblastoma, an aggressive type of brain tumor. Some patients went into remission. Oncologists were optimistic that the treatment might also thwart prostate and breast cancers.

On May 15, 2016, it was announced that the FDA had granted the treatment “breakthrough status.” Even while being evaluated for approval, the treatment is being offered to hundreds of brain cancer patients.

With the FDA’s green light, experiments will now begin in 40 institutions. If results remain favorable, Duke can skip the third segment of clinical trials and make the treatment available to the public.

Home Care Assistance of Santa Clarita is the trusted name in senior home care. Our friendly, experienced at-home caregivers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can even be present during hospital discharge to ensure a smooth transition home. If your loved one could use additional support at home, reach out today by calling 661.259.9914. One of our friendly Care Managers can answer your questions, discuss care options, and schedule a free in-home consultation.