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Measles vaccine eliminates Minnesota woman's cancer

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The cancer of a woman from Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, is in remission after she received a massive dose of the measles vaccine.

According to KARE 11, Stacy Erholtz has battled cancer for 10 years. She received a dose of the measles vaccine – large enough to vaccinate 10 million people.

The treatment appears to have worked as more than a year later she remains cancer free.

"I promise you I have not felt his well, I can't remember how well feeling like this," she told KARE 11. "Having this amount of energy."

Erholtz suffered from multiple myeloma and had undergone nearly every imaginable treatment over the last decade including chemotherapy and two stem cell transplants. Every time her cancer returned – until now.

Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine, treated Erholtz at the Mayo Clinic, he says her case is the "first well-documented instance of a patient who has received an intravenously administered virus that has cause complete remission of disseminating cancer."

Oncolytic virotherapy exploits cancer cells that usually have weak ability to fight off infections. Russell says the apparent success in Erholtz's treatment is a milestone.

"We've known for a long time that this is possible in mice, but we had not known that it's possible in people," he said. "We now know it's possible and this should energize the field – but we have a lot of work to do."

Doctors remain cautious, though. Virotherapy may only work on some types of cancers or for patients, who haven't been exposed to the vaccine (or have had their immunity wiped out through chemotherapy and radiation).

Erholtz was one of two patients in the landmark study. According to researchers, both of the patients had limited previous exposure to measles and therefore had fewer antibodies to the virus.

The next step will be Phase II of clinical trials for patients without other treatment options.

"Hopefully, by combining the virus with drugs or by increasing the dose further still, we will be able to get those complete cures which we would love to see," Russell said.

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