Search and Destory

Researchers demonstrate how a virus can enter cancer cells and destroy them

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have identified a way in which certain viruses acting as oncolytic agents enter cancer cells and destory them.

An oncolytic virus is a virus that preferentially infects cancer cells. This finding could help efforts to develop more targeted treatments against several types of cancer.

Ewan F. Dunn, a postdoctoral fellow, under the direction of John H. Connor, an assistant professor of microbiology at BUSM, have studied the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and its ability to kill cancer cells. VSV, which is not a significant human pathogen, is sensitive to the innate immune response that causes lymphocytes to react and protect the body from developing an infection. Cancer cells lose the ability to respond that way.

"When cancer cells transform, they become non-responsive, leaving them vulnerable to viruses attacking the cell and its function," said Dunn.

The BUSM team demonstrated that VSV can switch off the signaling pathway that keeps cancer cells alive (known as AKT signaling), suggesting a single viral protein could play a major role in cancer-cell death.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 1, 2010
Last Updated:
December 3, 2010