Skip to comments.Researchers Create ‘Obedient Virus’; Use Measles Virus Against Cancer
Posted on 02/04/2005 12:34:52 PM PST by toast
Researchers Create Obedient Virus; Use Measles Virus Against Cancer
Newswise — An international team of Mayo Clinic-led researchers is first to devise a system that consistently converts the measles virus into a therapeutic killer that hunts down and destroys cancer cells -- and cancer cells only. Their research findings appear in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology http://www.nature.com/nbt/.
The researchers harnessed the viral trait for attacking and commandeering cells, and then redirected the virus to attack diseased, rather than healthy cells. The work was done on laboratory animals implanted with two kinds of human cancer cells -- ovarian cancer and lymphoma -- and is probably still years away from use as a human therapy. But the concept has at last been proved in mice with human cancer tumors -- and thats an essential step toward using this approach to expand and improve human treatments for a variety of cancers.
The Obedient Virus
When I saw the data, I was completely stunned. Its the sort of thing that, having worked on targeting viruses for about 15 years, I just couldnt believe that wed finally got what wed been hunting all that time, says Stephen Russell, M.D., Ph.D., lead researcher and director of Mayo Clinics Molecular Medicine Program.
Its very clean, very clear targeting. Our results show that weve efficiently ablated (destroyed) the ability of the measles virus to interact with its two natural receptors. And they also show that we can take our pick as to what new receptor we target and send the virus after it.
How They Did It
Using bioengineering techniques, the team reprogrammed the measles virus to seek a cancer cell to bind to instead of its natural binding partner. Then they invented a molecular tag that they attached to structures on the outside of the cancer-seeking measles virus. This tag is the key innovation of their work and central to the success of the teams investigation. It enables researchers to grow retargeted measles virus on special universal substrate cells -- while at the same time conserving the viral component for targeting and destroying tumors. Mass production of a retargeted virus was not possible before this specific innovation of the molecular tag -- and research in this area was at an impasse. Not any more.
The virus goes where its meant to go, and it destroys the tumors in a targeted way, says Dr. Russell.
Natural viruses are cellular parasites. To reproduce more viruses, they need to bind to a partner on their target cell, fuse membranes to enter the target cell and then take over the cellular machinery. When they succeed in doing this, an infection occurs. Viruses are so good at taking over cells that researchers have long dreamed of exploiting the specific attraction viruses have to certain cells and using it as a homing device to seek and enter cancer cells.
The measles virus became the focus of this vision several years ago when the surprising finding was made that the measles strain used internationally for vaccinations has natural anticancer activity.
But we had a concern that the measles virus may be a little too promiscuous in its ability to infect both cancer cells and non-cancer cells, so we wanted to develop a method whereby we could retarget the virus to infect cancer cells only, says Dr. Russell. And we succeeded.
Collaboration and Support
In addition to Dr. Russell, the Mayo Clinic research team includes Takafumi Nakamura, Ph.D.; Kah-Whye Peng, Ph.D.; Mary Harvey, Suzanne Greiner and Charles James. From the University of Ottawa, Ian A.J. Lorimer, Ph.D, contributed his expertise. The work was funded by The Mayo Clinic Foundation, the Harold W. Siebens Foundation, and the National Cancer Institute.
But kind of scary too.
"kind of scary"
Indeed, it is. We need to be careful, but we need this type of treatment too. Cancer is actually a huge fear of mine. The idea that, at any time, a single cell out of the 3-4 trillion in your body can just go haywire, multiply and kill you is terrifying.
Sic 'em, Spot! :)
Scary, promising, exciting, what have you... it's the telescopic nature of science coming to life. This is just the beginning!
You realize, of course, that this kind of krap is what is going to kill us all...
A mutated measles virus or the cancer that already kills 1/3 of us?
Been wondering how long it would take them to do this. Makes sense.
Could be used to cure genetic disorders, too.
Have to be careful -- reminded of the movie "The Fly." Not the old one but the new one with Jeff Goldblum.
At the early point of the 20th century there was a New England Physician that was using infections as a means to cure cancer.
He had fair success but since he butted heads with the Medical Establishment he was ridiculed and his research fell by the wayside for the next 80 years.
Looks like he was on the right track after all..
You mean like the mutated flu viruses that people were bitching about not getting to fight the flu?
A cure for cancer! Again! Someday! Sigh.
Likewise with Dr Royal Rife. He invented a microscope back in the 1920s that had 300,000X magnification. It was able to see virus cells - while they were still alive, instead of the electron microscopes of today where everything they look at must be in a vacuum.
From that microscope he invented a device that CURED cancer. The AMA found this device to be a threat to their jobs, and promptly destroyed Dr Rife and his work. Go figure. (Thankfully his work is once again being actively researched.)
The guy that put forth the position that most stomach ulcers are bacteria related was pilloried.
Now treatment for Helicobacter pilori with an antibiotic and an acid pump inhibitor is the standard of care for ulcers.
All I am saying is that there will be a day when some of this krap, either willfully, or negligently, gets spread rapidly to the unsuspecting masses.
It won't seem like great progress then.
I am not a luddite. Far from it. However, the single most powerful avenue available to destroy mankind is not:
If I was dying of cancer, I wouldn't want to wait six years to try this. It should be made available if there is a chance. It would be worth the risk.
I'll wait for the peer-review process to do it's thing. So many of these fantastic breakthroughs are reported in the press and never heard from again.
Do you understand that the way virus are killed are to use other viruses? Measles, Mumps and even Polio are killed with mutated strains of the virus. Anti-biotics can only do so much. But perhaps you might enjoy a nice juicy tumour feeding on your lungs, testicles, brain or what have you then to take a chance on a mutated cure?
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