Training viruses to be cancer killers

For decades, scientists and doctors have looked for ways to stop the damage that viruses cause to humans. But in recent years, certain safe, modified viruses have emerged as potential allies to tackle cancer. Previous studies have shown that some viruses naturally kill cancer cells, but how they do this has never been fully understood. A new study, published in Molecular Therapy – Oncolytics, has revealed EnAd to have a rather unusual method of killing cancer cells.   Ways to kill a cancer cell One of the ways in which viruses survive in the human body is by hijacking healthy cells’ internal machinery. EnAd takes over the cancer cells’ machinery, using up the cell’s energy to such an extent that it has no more strength left to live. Cells normally die in a very controlled way, but these cancer cells balloon up to 2 or 3 times their size, giving the appearance of blistering. And it’s this precise effect that gives EnAd potential to be a great cancer cell killer. Cancer cells can disguise themselves from the body’s immune system, but when EnAd destroys cancer cells in the lab it leaves the ‘crime scene’ upturned, with lots of evidence carelessly left behind. Seymour’s team believe this could encourage the immune system to ring the alarm for other immune cells to come and investigate the scene.   The future’s bright for cancer-killing viruses EnAd has passed these lab examinations and is now being tested in an early stage clinical trial in a very small number of people. Some cancers can also become resistant to the ways in which treatments destroy them. But because EnAd has a different method of destroying cancer cells, virus might also be able to kill cancers that have become resistant to treatment.



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