Genetically engineered virus to kill cancer cells

US scientists claim to have genetically engineered a strain of virus capable of destroying cancerous cells. In a study published last Friday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, scientists at Jennerex Biotherapeutics in San Francisco genetically engineered a strain of the virus used to vaccinate people against smallpox which when injected to cancer tumours in rabbits and mice where found capable of destroying the tumours. The poxvirus was engineered to attack certain cancer cells that have a protein, EGFR. The modified virus was then injected under the skin of animals with cancer tumours. The virus remained in the tumours for ten days showing that the host’s antiviral immune responses did not destroy it. Further, the normal body tissues were not infected by the virus. Repeat injection of the virus six weeks after the first injection reduced the size of the tumours in three of the four test subjects. The test result shows that the anti-tumour effect is feasible even in previously immunized body. Tests on human ovarian, muscle, pancreatic, breast and lung cancer cells showed that the virus killed the cancerous cells rapidly. The treatment, it is believed holds promise for human cancer. Source:CBC news Image:faqs

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