LONDON, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Researchers in England found combining radiotherapy and the use of an oncolytic virus were more effective against melanoma than either by themselves.
The oncolytic virus RT3D and radiotherapy together killed significantly more cancer cells in mice with the disease than either is individually capable of, researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research report in a new study.
Oncolytic viruses have been used to attack cancer in several studies in recent years, with reovirus type 3 Dearing, or RT3D, specifically shown to be effective against solid cancers and head and neck squamous cell cancer when combined with other drugs.
Melanoma can be a difficult cancer to treat, especially once it has spread, making it important to kill as much of the cancer as possible as quickly as possible. While both radiotherapy and RT3D are effective against it, finding RT3D cells survive radiation allowed the researchers to test the treatments together.
"Once melanoma has started to spread it is hard to treat effectively and often will not respond well to radiotherapy on its own," Kevin Harrington, joint head of the division of radiotherapy and imaging at the Institute of Cancer Research, said in a press release.
For the study, published in the journal Oncotarget, researchers first tested each treatment separately, and then together, on three types of melanoma cell lines.
After determining the combination worked in lab dishes, the researchers tested it in mice with melanoma, finding it shrank tumors more effectively than either treatment on its own and prolonged survival of the rodents.
"Our study found that delivering radiotherapy with an anti-cancer virus created an effective combination treatment with the potential to benefit patients with melanoma," Harrington said.