Scientists at London developed a genetically modified virus that can kill cancer cells and destroy their hiding places. The novel dual-action virus, named as enadenotucirev can target cancer cells as well as fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are healthy cells that are tricked into protecting the cancer from the immune system.
Currently, any therapy that kills fibroblasts may also kill them throughout the body, causing toxicity. The new virus targets carcinomas, the most common type of cancer that proliferate in cells in the skin or in the tissues that line or cover internal organs.
“Even when most of the cancer cells in a carcinoma are killed, fibroblasts can protect the residual cancer cells and help them to recover and flourish,” said Kerry Fisher, from Britain’s University of Oxford.
“Our new technique to simultaneously target the fibroblasts while killing cancer cells with the virus could be an important step towards reducing immune system suppression within carcinomas and should kick-start the normal immune process,” he added.
The team successfully tested the virus on samples of healthy human bone marrow and found it did not cause toxicity or inappropriate T-cell activation.
Enadenotucirev is already in clinical trials for treating carcinomas. It will be moving towards clinical trials in the year 2018 to find out if it is safe and effective in people with cancers.