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Childhood Brain Tumors May Respond to Measles Virus

Treatment looks promising in laboratory and animal tests, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- A modified form of the measles virus could become a treatment for a kind of brain tumor in children, researchers report.

The tumor, known as medulloblastoma, occurs in about 20 percent of childhood brain cancer cases. Treatment, which can include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, has increased the survival rate at five years to 70 percent, but the tumors remain deadly in many cases.

"There is still an urgent need to investigate alternative therapeutic approaches that are more effective and have less toxic side effects," said study lead author Dr. Corey Raffel, chief of neurosurgery at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Researchers have previously used strains of measles virus to kill different types of tumor cells.

In this study, researchers found that a modified form of the measles virus killed brain tumor cells in the laboratory. The approach seemed to also work in mice with tumors similar to medulloblastomas in humans.

More research is needed before the treatment will be ready for testing in people.

The findings were published online May 21 in the journal Neuro-Oncology.

More information

For more about childhood brain tumors, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Nationwide Children's Hospital, news release, May 26, 2010

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