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Tumor-killing virus selectively targets diseased brain cells
Date:2/19/2008

WASHINGTON, DC February 19, 2008 New findings show that a specialized virus with the ability to reproduce its tumor-killing genes can selectively target tumors in the brains of mice and eliminate them. Healthy brain tissue remained virtually untouched, according to a Feb. 20 report in The Journal of Neuroscience. With more research, the technique could one day offer a novel way of treating brain cancer in humans.

Most importantly, this study finds that the virus can penetrate into the brain, where it even reaches cells that have migrated away from the main tumor, says Harald Sontheimer, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who was not affiliated with the study. Assuming that the virus behaves similarly in humans, in the future, it may provide a novel and highly efficacious way to treat resistant tumors.

The study is the culmination of six years of basic research into the fundamental processes of viruses and the cells they target, conducted by senior author Anthony van den Pol, PhD, and his team at Yale University School of Medicine. They set out to test the vesicular stomatis virus, which was selected for its ability to attack brain tumors and leave healthy tissue largely uninfected.

Tumor cells from brain cancers commonly found both in people and in mice were implanted into immune-compromised mice, which then received an injection of the virus in the tail. By viewing fluorescent proteins embedded in both tumor and virus cells in the brains of living mice, van den Pols team watched as the virus infected multiple sites in the brain, spreading across an entire tumor within three days, killing tumor cells in its wake. The virus did not target normal mouse tissue or non-cancerous human brain cells transplanted into the mouse brain, the team found. They speculated that, unlike those in healthy brain tissue, blood vessels within brain tumors may leak, allowing the virus to cross the usually impenetrable protective barr
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Contact: Sara Harris
sharris@sfn.org
202-963-4000
Society for Neuroscience
Source:Eurekalert

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