Scientists at Penn State Hershey Medical Center are having great success killing breast cancer cells in the lab. The researchers have discovered that there is a virus that kills breast cancer cells, all types of breast cancer cells, 100 percent of the time.
"I didn't believe it," said Dr. Craig Meyers, a cancer researcher at Penn State Hershey. "I thought our incubators broke down or the person doing the experiment did something wrong. So, we repeated it, and repeated it, and repeated it."
Each time, it worked. Researchers said the virus triggers breast cancer cells to turn on themselves and die. So far, it does no damage to healthy cells. It currently works in a tissue culture dish and in mice.
The next step, as soon as they get more funding, is human trials. With such promising results so far, you'd think money for the next step of research would be pouring in. Surprisingly, that is not the case.
"It's very frustrating," Meyers said. "I believe it's going to do something and that's what's frustrating: so many things get money with a lot less results than what we're getting."
Meyers wonders if he's been pigeon-holed as a cervical cancer researcher. He's worked on cervical cancer vaccines. He also says agencies may be more focused right now on funding personalized treatment - and there's the economy.
"There's a lot of desperation out there to find a cure and right now, because of the economy, there's very little funding for anything," he said.
Nonetheless, Penn State Hershey is increasing its efforts to find money to fund the research they believe in.