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Using a virus to fight cancer?

Published on October 21, 2014 at 14:41 / Updated on July 26, 2019 at 12:07

Obliterate cancer with a viral infection, really? Although this idea might seem a little uncanny, research conducted in Canada yielded impressive results. It demonstrated that the Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) can eradicate the most malignant type of brain cancer in mice.

Malignant glioma is one of the most rampant nervous system types of cancers in adults. Current treatments have great difficulty with this invasive and aggressive cancerous tumour. Despite the dramatic advances in the treatment of this type of cancer, the prognosis of patients has not improved much in the past 30 years. In fact, even though they benefit from the very best treatments available, patients who have this type of cancer usually only survive for a year.

First, researchers weakened VSV by altering one of its genes to make it safer for normal cells. Then, they administered it intravenously to mice affected by invasive brain cancer and in tumour specimens from patients with malignant glioma.

Researchers tested VSV on 14 cell lines of malignant glioma and discovered that the virus infected and eradicated all of them. Normal cell lines, that is to say, those that were not cancerous, remained unaffected.

Who knows, maybe one day traditional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy may partially be replaced by a virus!

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