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Tumours shrank or stopped growing in every patient who underwent radiotherapy coupled with a new drug, Reolysin, which contains particles of reovirus.
One patient had a large tumour mass in a salivary gland which was reduced in size enough to be surgically removed after undergoing the treatment. Another who was close to death with a serious form of spreading skin cancer was still alive 17 months later.
Dr Brad Thompson, president and chief executive of Oncolytics Biotech Inc, the Canadian manufacturers of Reolysin, said: ''We believe that this study clearly demonstrates that the combination of low dose radiation and Reolysin is well tolerated and that the very high response rate warrants further investigation.''