New Treatment for Prostate Cancer Uses Measles Vaccine

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A study supported by the Mayo clinic shows that that certain strains of the measles virus vaccine have the ability to kill prostate cancer cells. Studies carried out in lab mice, testing the prostate cancer treatment with a strain of measles known as MV-CEA, resulted in complete regression of prostate cancer cells in one-fifth of mice tested, doubling survival time in the remaining animals treated with the measles virus vaccine.

According to Evanthia Galanis, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, senior author of the study, "Based on our preclinical results as well as the safety of measles derivatives in clinical trials against other tumor types, these viral strains could represent excellent candidates for clinical testing against advanced prostate cancer, including androgen resistant tumors."

The researchers hope that the measles virus vaccine can be used in combination with other treatments, providing new hope for men with advanced prostate cancer, for which there is currently no cure.


The measles virus vaccine can be used noninvasively to kill prostate cancer cells. The researchers found that MV-CEA infects, duplicates, and then kills prostate cancer cells when the measles virus vaccine is applied directly to prostate cancer cells using ultrasound-guided needle injections. A simple blood test, combined with MRI and ultrasound can be used to measure the success of prostate cancer therapy using measles vaccine, allowing for close monitoring of treatment.

The researchers also note the safety in using measles virus vaccine as a new approach for treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Measles vaccine has been in use for over forty years, and has been administered to millions of individuals.

The new study involving measles virus vaccine for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer appears in the journal The Prostate. The measles virus vaccine is currently being tested in three trials for prostate cancer treatment. The vaccine was also effective for other types of cancer, including lymphoma, ovarian and breast cancer, multiple myeloma, glioblastoma, and liver cancer.

The researchers view the findings that measles virus vaccine, MV-CEA effectively kills and limits the growth of prostate cancer cells, as a safe and novel therapy that can be developed for the treatment of advanced and recurrent prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is expected to have claimed 28,660 lives in American men in 2008.

Engineered measles virus as a novel oncolytic therapy against prostate cancer