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Customized virus kills brain tumor stem cells that drive lethal cancer
Date:9/11/2007

HOUSTON - A tailored virus destroys brain tumor stem cells that resist other therapies and cause lethal re-growth of cancer after surgery, a research team led by scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center reports in the Sept. 18 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"We have shown first in lab experiments and then in stem cell-derived human brain cancer in mice, that we have a tool that can target and eliminate the cells that drive brain tumors," says co-senior author Juan Fueyo, M.D., associate professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Neuro-Oncology. A request to launch a clinical trial of the virus, called Delta-24-RGD, is expected to go to federal regulators this month.

The virus was tested against the most aggressive brain tumor - glioblastoma multiforme, which originates in the glial cells that surround and support neurons. It is highly resistant to radiation and chemotherapy and so invasive that surgery almost never eliminates it. Patients suffering from this malignant glioma live on average for about 14 months with treatment.

Fueyo and colleagues developed Delta-24-RGD to prey on a molecular weakness in tumors and altered the virus so it could not replicate in normal tissue. They showed in a JNCI paper in 2003 that the virus eliminated brain tumors in 60 percent of mice who received injections directly into their tumors. The virus spreads in a wave through the tumors until there are no cancer cells left, then it dies.

Since 2004 scientists have found that brain tumors are driven by haywire stem cells that replicate themselves, differentiate into other types of cells, and bear protein markers like normal stem cells.

"Research has shown that these cancer stem cells are the origin of the tumor, that they resist the chemotherapy and radiation that we give to our patients, and that they drive the renewed growth of the tumor after surgery," Fueyo said. "So we decide
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Contact: Scott Merville
sdmervil@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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