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Herpes virus offers new hope in curing cancer

CINCINNATI - In laboratory studies at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, researchers have successfully treated the most common malignant abdominal tumor of childhood: neuroblastoma tumors. Researchers successfully treated the tumor in mouse models by administering a treatment based on a weakened version of the herpes simplex virus.

The study appears in the current online issue of Pediatric Blood and Cancer, the journal of the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.

Neuroblastomas are solid cancerous tumors that usually begin in the nerve tissues of the adrenal gland, but may also begin in the nerve tissues of the neck, chest or pelvis. These are solid cancerous tumors that are diagnosed in approximately 650 children in the United States each year, and most of these children are diagnosed before age five. In 70 percent of these cases, the cancer will have metastasized, or spread to other areas of the body.

Researchers tested two treatment protocols: the adenovirus, a virus often associated with the common cold; and, a weakened version of herpes simplex virus, which is most commonly associated with cold sores. Only the herpes simplex virus proved to be effective in treating neuroblastoma tumors, said Timothy Cripe, MD, PhD, director of the Comprehensive Musculoskeletal Tumor Clinic and Translational Research Trials Office at Cincinnati Children's and senior author of the new study.

"It was surprising that with only one injection, we could make a large tumor disappear. We were able to cure a majority of the mice with neuroblastoma with a single injection of the virus," Dr. Cripe said.

While the herpes simplex virus has been tested against adult cancers, this is the first study that shows promise in using the same therapy in children with neuroblastoma tumors, he said.

The field of oncolytic viruses is a growing area in identifying new therapies for treating cancer. In using viral-based therapies, th
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Contact: Amy Reyes
amy.reyes@cchmc.org
513-636-9684
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
30-Nov-2004


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