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Researchers Train the Immune System to Deliver Virus That Destroys Cancer in Lab Models
Date:12/18/2007

Procedure also could prevent recurrence

ROCHESTER, Minn., Dec. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An international team of researchers led by Mayo Clinic have designed a technique that uses the body's own cells and a virus to destroy cancer cells that spread from primary tumors to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system. In addition, their study shows that this technology could be the basis for a new cancer vaccine to prevent cancer recurrence.

The study appeared in the Dec. 9 online issue of Nature Medicine.

The technology combines infection-fighting T-cells with the vesicular stomatitis virus that targets and destroys cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. The study, which has not yet been replicated in humans, is significant because it describes a potential new therapy to treat and prevent the spread of cancer in patients.

"We hope to translate these results into clinical trials. However, until those trials are done, it's difficult to be certain that what we see in mouse models will clearly translate to humans. We're hopeful that will be the case," says Richard Vile, Ph.D., a Mayo Clinic specialist in molecular medicine and immunology and the study's principal investigator.

In primary cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, head and neck and skin, the growth of secondary tumors often pose the most threat to patients, not the primary tumor. The prognosis for these patients often depends upon the degree of lymph node involvement and whether the cancer has spread.

Dr. Vile and colleagues theorized that they could control the spread of cancer through the lymphatic system (bone marrow, spleen, thymus and lymph nodes) by manipulating the immune system.

Researchers zeroed in on immature T-cells from bone marrow, programming them to respond to specific threats to the immune system while delivering a cancer-destroying virus to the tumor cells.

To deliver the virus, researcher
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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