Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found a way to use measles to fight cancer.

Viruses are parasites. To reproduce, they seek out sites on a healthy cell, get inside, and then take over the host's cellular machinery. For years, researchers dreamed of using viruses to hijack cancer cells.

The Mayo team knew that measles kills most cancer cells, too. But to use the virus as an anti-cancer treatment, they had to change the virus so it wouldn't attack healthy cells. They eliminated the virus's ability to bind to its natural receptors, and retargeted it to zero in on ovarian cancer cells.

In lab animals implanted with human cancer cells, the virus hunted down and destroyed only infected cells. Clinical trials on patients with ovarian cancer began last summer, but it will be at least three years before the treatment is approved for use in hospitals.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

WOW! How big is this-it sounds amazing!? I still think we need to remember that aspects of life in this century are the root of the problem-the need for heathier lifestyles/air/ etc. -not only the cure.\r\n

posted on Wed, 02/09/2005 - 2:35pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

While it is certainly true that lifestyle and environmental factors cause many cancers, let's not forget that the reason so many people die of cancer is because we are living longer, presumably healthier lives. Most cancers take a long time to grow and become malignant. In decades past, people would die of TB or Influenza or somthing else long before cancer had a chance to kill them. We see more cancer these days at least in part because we've been so successful at beating back other fatal diseases.

Of course, antibiotic-resistant TB and new, deadly flus are making a comeback, so perhaps cancer isn't our biggest worry...

posted on Mon, 02/21/2005 - 9:42am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Scientists at the University of California used a disabled form of HIV-the virus that causes AIDS-to track down malignant melanoma cells in mice. The engineered form of the virus spread through the body and infected cells, but didn't cause disease. Researchers retargeted the altered virus to attach to proteins on the surface of many cancer cells. They also loaded it with a fluorescent protein that allowed them to see where the virus ended up. It went straight for the cancer cells, and nowhere else. In time, this research could lead to a gene therapy technique for human patients.

posted on Mon, 02/14/2005 - 4:48pm

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