Certain viruses effective at targeting cancer cells, scientists claim

30 August 2011

Certain strains of viruses could be used to treat cancers most common among children and young adults, a new study suggests.

The vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), related to the same family of viruses as rabies and which causes a similar disease to foot and mouth in cattle, is particularly effective at seeking out and destroying cancerous tumours, according to new findings published in the Journal of Virology.

Modifying the virus to a compound known as VSV-rp30a resulted in a total of 12 out of 13 different sarcomas - a cancer which affects the soft tissue connecting, surrounding or supporting other structures and organs in the body - being effectively targeted and killed in trials on mice.

"A single intravenous injection of VSV-rp30a selectively infected all subcutaneous human sarcomas tested in mice and arrested the growth of tumours that otherwise grew 11-fold," explain the researchers.

Recent trials in Canada highlighted how the application of maspin in the early phases of the disease's development dramatically halted its spread. The study in Laboratory Investigation could reduce the need for aggressive cancer treatment at later stages.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1 Paglino, J.C., van den Pol, A.N., " Vesicular stomatitis virus has extensive oncolytic activity against human sarcomas: Rare resistance is overcome by blocking interferon pathways. Journal of Virology. September 2011.

2 Goulet, Brigitte, " Nuclear localization of maspin is essential for its inhibition of tumor growth and metastasis." Laboratory Investigation. Thursday July 28th 2011.

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