CINCINNATI Scientists have used a genetically re-engineered herpes virus that selectively hunts down and infects cancerous tumors and then delivers genetic material that prompts cancers to secrete a biomarker and reveal their presence.
According to a study appearing May 11 in PLoS (Public Library of Science) ONE, the novel technology has the potential to vastly improve cancer diagnosis by allowing the disease to be caught at much earlier stages and to monitor the effectiveness of therapy.
Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center who conducted the study say the new technique developed in preclinical mouse models could also be more cost effective and portable than current scanning technologies. This would make it useful for diagnosing cancers in less developed parts of the world.
"Our study represents a proof-of-principle in mice, and there is certainly room for further refinement. If ultimately validated in human trials, it could have implications for people with known cancer risk or who have a history of cancer and high risk of recurrence,'' said Timothy Cripe, M.D., Ph.D., senior investigator on the study and a physician and researcher in the Division of Oncology at Cincinnati Children's.
"Early cancer detection is vital to improve cure rates because cancer stage predicts prognosis, but biomarkers are known for only a few cancer types. We were able to use a reprogrammed herpes virus administered intravenously to deliver genetic information that induces a known blood biomarker for cancer to be secreted by cancer cells," explained Dr. Cripe, who collaborated on the study with first author, Andrew Browne, Ph.D., a fourth-year medical student at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine and a recent graduate from UC's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
The researchers engineered a herpes simplex virus mutant they called rQ-M38G, reprogramming its genetic makeup
|Contact: Nick Miller|
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center