A type of virus known as the human reovirus possesses a remarkable trait: It can replicate inside and kill cancer cells that feature a common mutation (known as an "activated Ras pathway"), while leaving the body's normal cells alone. Now a new study reports that reovirus has the potential to treat certain lung cancer patients, when the reovirus is combined with two other substances known as paclitaxel and carboplatin.

Researchers from The Ohio State University, Georgetown University, and Oncolytics Biotech Inc., a Calgary-based biotechnology company, will present a paper on their findings at the 14th World Conference on Lung Cancer, to be held July 3-7 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The annual meeting is organized by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC). The Denver-based IASLC is the only global organization dedicated to the study of lung cancer. Founded in 1972, the association's membership includes more than 3,000 lung cancer specialists in 80 countries. More than 7,000 participants are expected to attend the 14th World Conference.

The paper is titled "Phase II study of reovirus with paclitaxel (P) and carboplatin (C) in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have Kras or EGFR-activated tumors." The lead author is M. A. Villalona-Calero of The Ohio State University. His coauthors are E. Lam, G. Otterson, W. Zhao, K. Donthireddy, J. Thurmond, E. Hade, and J. Pennington, also of OSU; D. Subramaniam of Georgetown University; and K. Mettinger and M. Coffey of Oncolytics.

In their ongoing, single-arm, phase II study, the researchers are focusing on a set of 21 patients with metastatic non-small lung cancer who have Kras or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tumors; both types of tumors are susceptible to reovirus infection. The study was designed to evaluate the efficacy of reovirus in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin as first-line therapy in patients with these kinds of tumors. In the paper, the researchers conclude that therapy involving REOLYSIN, Oncolytics' proprietary formulation of the human reovirus, can be administered safely in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin. They also report that the clinical effectiveness of the treatment will be assessed at the completion of the study.

Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell) is the second most common cancer in both men (after prostate cancer) and women (after breast cancer). It accounts for about 15% of all new cancers. The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for lung cancer in the United States are for 2010:

About 222,520 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed (116,750 among men and 105,770 among women).

There will be an estimated 157,300 deaths from lung cancer (86,220 among men and 71,080 among women), accounting for about 28% of all cancer deaths.

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