by Dan Browning
It’s been five years since Stacy Erholtz underwent an experimental treatment for blood cancer that used enough measles vaccine to inoculate 10 million people, and she’s still celebrating her life, moment by moment. “I’m not the kind of person who waits for the other shoe to drop,” said Erholtz, 54, of Pequot Lakes. “I was prepared to die, and I didn’t die,” she said. “I believe God has a plan.” Dr. Stephen Russell, a professor of molecular medicine at the Mayo Clinic who spearheaded the treatment, said his research has failed to live up to his initial hope to use an engineered form of the measles virus as a kind of guided missile against multiple myeloma, a cancer that attacks white blood cells. Even so, he says, “Stacy has lived up to it.”
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Context: In a proof of principle clinical trial published in 2014, Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated that virotherapy — destroying cancer with a virus that infects and kills cancer cells but spares normal tissues — can be effective against the deadly cancer multiple myeloma. The findings appear in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. You can read more about the medical research here.