Virus could kill breast cancer cells without harming patient

23 September 2011

A non-disease causing virus kills cancer cells, according to tests done in the laboratory as part of a wider study.

Penn State College of Medicine researchers found that the non-harmful virus attacked the cancer cells, creating opportunity for new cancer treatments.

Adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) had a substantial effect on the infected cells.

Researchers led by Craig Meyers, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology at the US university, used an unaltered, naturally occurring version of AAV2 on human breast cancer cells, a cancer which is deemed more difficult to treat due to its numerous stages.

Professor Meyers said: "Currently, treatment of breast cancer is dependent on multiple factors such as hormone-dependency, invasiveness and metastases, drug resistance and potential toxicities. Our study shows that AAV2, as a single entity, targets all different grades of breast cancer."

He added that research needs to be completed to learn how AAV2 is killing cancer cells and which of its proteins are activating the death pathways.

Global breast cancer incidence increased from 641,000 cases in 1980 to 1,643,000 cases in 2010.

By Philip Briggs

Meyers, C. et al., "Molecular Cancer", The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Breast and Cervical Cancer Initiative supported this research, September 22nd 2011.


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