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A new way to kill cancer: SLU research shows viruses can destroy lung, colon tumors

ST. LOUIS - A genetically engineered virus can selectively kill cancerous cells in the lung and colon while leaving healthy cells intact, according to new research published today in Cancer Research by William Wold and colleagues at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

The research could lead to a new class of cancer therapies that selectively kill cancer cells.

"These engineered viruses kill cancer cells through a mechanism that is completely different from chemotherapy or radiation," said Dr. William Wold, chair of the department of molecular microbiology and immunology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. "These viruses have the potential to treat many cancers that are resistant to currently available therapeutics. It also may be possible to use these viruses in combination with other therapies to create novel treatment regimens."

Dr. Wold and his colleagues Karoly Toth, Konstantin Doronin, Ann E. Tollefson, Mohan Kuppuswamy, Baoling Ying, Jacqueline Spencer, and Maria Thomas have been researching for many years ways to convert the relatively benign "adenovirus" that causes symptoms similar to the common cold in children into an anti-cancer drug that attacks and destroys cancerous cells.

Wold's group has developed several new "adenovirus cancer gene therapy vectors," changing these genes so the virus will attack cancer cells.

"Some of our vectors are designed to destroy many different types of cancers, others are designed to be specific to colon or lung cancer. In preclinical testing these vectors were highly effective against cancerous tumors and did not harm normal tissues."

The new research reported today in Cancer Research involves INGN 007 (VRX-007) and INGN 009 (VRX-009), two novel "oncolytic adenoviruses" that have been engineered to kill cancer cells via viral replication. These viruses can be engineered so that they are active in specific types of cancer cells. The data published today indic
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Contact: Joe Muehlenkamp
muehlenk@slu.edu
314-977-8015
Saint Louis University
15-May-2004


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