It’s that time of year when we start stocking up on cold remedies, and are being urged to book ourselves in for a flu vaccination. But while flu can be a deadly illness, you might want to think twice about cursing the common cold – it may be doing you some good!
Researchers at the University of Surrey
have been using the common cold virus, coxsackievirus (CVA21), to treat bladder cancer and found that the virus eradicated tumours in just one week!
Bladder cancer is the 10th most common cancer in the UK. Typically tumours in the bladder do not have immune cells, which prevents the patient’s own immune system from eliminating the cancer as it grows. Current treatments for bladder cancer are difficult and invasive, with a high tumour recurrence rate.
This study took fifteen patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).
One week prior to scheduled surgery to remove their tumours, the patients were given an infusion of CVA21 via a catheter in the bladder. The viral infection caused the bladder to become inflamed thus triggering an immune response targeting and killing the cancer cells.
Samples taken post-infusion revealed that the virus was highly selective, targeting only cancerous cells in the organ and leaving all other cells intact – unlike chemotherapy, which kills all living cells.
The virus was found to have infected cancerous cells and replicated itself causing the cells to rupture and die. Urine samples taken from patients on alternate days detected ‘shedding’ of the cancer cells which suggests the therapy is on-going and continues to kill cancer cells as they develop.
Lead researcher Prof Hardev Pandha said “Reduction of tumour burden and increased cancer cell death was observed in all patients, and removed all trace of the disease in one patient following just one week of treatment, showing its potential effectiveness,” he said.
“Notably, no significant side effects were observed in any patient.” 
More research is being done on cases of breast, bowel and lung cancers as well as a range of skin diseases.
Virotherapy, as it is known, could “transform the way we treat cancer and signal a move away from more established treatments such as chemotherapy” said Dr Nicola Annels, research fellow at the university.
Nature always gives us everything in perfect balance so perhaps, rather than suppressing the cold with medications, we should just let it run its course. It may be actually be doing us some good!!!