Mayo Clinic researchers enhance safety and effectiveness of therapeutic virus that fights cancer

he natural ability of certain viruses to kill cancer cells. It's a promising approach that has been known for nearly a century -- but constrained by safety concerns. Measles virus is one example of an oncolytic virus. For example, the live attenuated Edmonston measles vaccine strain can reduce or eliminate human lymphoma, myeloma, ovarian cancer and glioma tumors that are transplanted into laboratory mice.

Enhanced Safety and Effectiveness
The success of oncolytic virotherapy depends on restriction of viral growth to cancer cells --and only cancer cells -- to prevent unintended rogue infections elsewhere in the healthy body. The Mayo cancer-activated virus adds one more layer to a multiple safeguard system, so it now consists of three levels. The resulting enhanced security system now works at the level of:

  • activation of the virus particle
  • receptor recognition necessary for the virus to enter a cancer cell
  • ability of the virus to multiply preferentially in cancer cells

These multiple safeguards are specific to and dependent on cancer cells -- and are therefore vital to fully transforming viruses into safe therapeutic agents.


Contact: Bob Nellis
Mayo Clinic

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