Scientists have been able to turn a common cold virus into a potent cancer fighter, potentially paving the way for a new weapon in the war on the disease.
A team of scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have discovered the adenovirus — a type of cold virus — has developed proteins that allow it to hijack the mechanisms in a cell involved in growth, replication, and cancer suppression. By manipulating the proteins, the Salk scientists said they could be used to block the growth and development of tumor cells.SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
The findings, published in the journal Cell, suggest cold viruses could provide a new avenue for developing cancer therapies by mimicking the strategies they use.
"Cancer was once a black box," said Clodagh O'Shea, an assistant professor in Salk's Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, who led the study. "The key that opened that box was revealing the interactions between small DNA tumor virus proteins and cellular tumor suppressor complexes."
O’Shea said the Salk findings may help scientists develop small molecules — the basis for most current drugs — capable of destroying tumors by disrupting the processes that allow cancer cells to grow and spread. Understanding how viruses overcome healthy cells may also help scientists engineer tumor-busting viruses, which offer a new cancer therapy approach. Such modified viruses would destroy only cancer cells.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and Sontag Foundation.SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.