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Common virus may help doctors treat deadly brain tumors
Date:10/22/2007

DURHAM, N.C. -- A common human virus may prove useful in attacking the deadliest form of brain tumors, according to a study by researchers at Dukes Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. The researchers said the finding is an important step in developing a vaccine that can attack the tumors by enlisting the help of the bodys immune system.

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), which infects 50 percent to 90 percent of people at some point during their lives, is active in more than 90 percent of patients diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most deadly type of malignant brain tumor, said Duane Mitchell, M.D., Ph.D., a brain cancer researcher and lead investigator on the study.

We dont know if the virus plays a part in the growth of the brain tumors or whether the presence of the brain tumors leads to a reactivation of the virus, Mitchell said. But we do know that the virus has the potential to affect the growth and invasiveness of cancer cells. So if we can target it, we may be able to empower the bodys immune system to fight infected tumor cells and destroy the cancer.

According to the researchers, a vaccine targeting HCMV likely would be administered to patients following conventional chemotherapy. The immune systems recovery from chemotherapy is marked by a regenerative burst of new immune cells, and the vaccine would take advantage of this reaction to effect an even stronger immune response to the virus, Mitchell said.

The researchers will publish their findings in the February 2008 print issue of the journal Neuro-Oncology. The study was published early online on October 19, 2007. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, The Brain Tumor Society and Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, a not-for-profit organization that supports research to hasten a cure for brain cancer.

In healthy people with fully functional immune systems, the initial HCMV infection can be symptom-free or it can be associated
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Contact: Lauren Shaftel Williams
lauren.shaftel@duke.edu
919-684-4966
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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