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Viruses against cancer
Date:5/4/2010

Particular parvoviruses normally infect rodents, but they are also infectious for human cells. However, they do not cause any disease symptoms in humans. Most importantly, these viruses have an astonishing property: They kill infected tumors cells without causing any damage to healthy tissue. Therefore, scientists in the teams of Jean Rommelaere and Jrg Schlehofer at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have been investigating over the past years whether these viruses can be used as weapons against cancer.

Many different viruses have been tested before in cancer therapy, particularly for treating those types of cancer for which there are no effective established treatment methods. The DKFZ researchers realized early on that parvovirus H-1 has important advantages over other viruses. Now they have been the first to prove that malignant glioblastomas regress completely as a result of treatment with these viruses.

The treatment experiments were conducted in rats who had received brain tumors cells by implantation. Once the resulting brain tumors had reached a specified size, the animals were given parvoviruses, either by direct injection into the tumor or via the blood stream. In those animals in which the viruses had been injected directly into the tumor, the tumors shrank visibly after only three days and even disappeared completely in eight of twelve animals treated. The rodents survived without any symptoms, while untreated control animals suffered from severe disease symptoms within three weeks following tumor cell implantation. In the intravenously treated group, tumors regressed completely in six of nine animals. The animals have survived for more than one year now without any symptoms or late side effects of therapy.

The researchers found no infection-related damage in the nervous tissue surrounding the tumor. The viruses did not spread to the whole organism. Although parvovirus DNA was det
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Contact: Dr. Sibylle Kohlstaedt
s.kohlstaedt@dkfz.de
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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