Virus attacks ovarian cancer without affecting healthy cells
A new method could revolutionize the treatment of ovarian cancer in the future. Researchers have now succeeded in training a virus so that it recognizes and can even destroy ovarian cancer cells.
In their current investigation, Cardiff University scientists found that a virus is able to identify and destroy ovarian cancer cells. The doctors have published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Clinical Cancer Research".
Virus destroys harmful cancer cells
Reprogrammed viruses are already used in gene therapy to treat various diseases. The new virus can destroy harmful cells without affecting healthy cells, experts say. Cardiff University scientists hope that this new type of treatment could be used to treat other cancers such as breast, pancreas, lung and oral cancer in the future.
Programmed viruses often lead to undesirable side effects
In cancer treatment, previously programmed viruses were not able to selectively recognize only the cancer cells. In this case, healthy cells are also infected, which leads to undesirable side effects, explains Dr. Alan Parker from Cardiff University’s school of medicine.
The virus was completely redesigned
An already well-examined virus was taken and then completely redesigned so that it could no longer adhere to cells without cancer, the scientists explain. Instead, the so-called respirator virus looks for a specific marker protein called αvβ6 integrin, which is unique for certain cancer cells to penetrate into them, adds Dr. Parker added.
Virus has potential to treat many cancers
The virus effectively identified and destroyed ovarian cancer cells after replicating and copying them thousands of times. The newly created virus copies then infect the neighboring cancer cells and repeat the cycle until the tumor is removed. This is an exciting advance that has real potential to treat many cancers, the experts say.
Converted virus was one of the adenoviruses
The reprogrammed virus comes from a group of viruses known as adenoviruses. The researchers say that the advantage of using these types of viruses is that the virus is relatively easy to manipulate and has already been used safely in cancer treatment.
More research is needed
The study was conducted in a laboratory on ovarian cancer mice. The next step is to test the technique on other cancers, and then start clinical trials in five years. Viruses are nature's nanotechnology and the use of their ability to take over cells is an area of increasing interest for cancer research, the scientists explain. (as)