Mayo Clinic Collaboration Invents "Virus In Stealth" To Help Kill Cancer Cells

Mayo Clinic researchers working with colleagues in Germany have discovered a way to fight cancer by using parts of a virus found in tree shrews, small Southeast Asian mammals. The researchers used the virus to create a disguise for an engineered measles virus that enables it to sneak past the immune system. It kills cancer cells without harming healthy cells. The work is still experimental. But it is a key step forward in the science of redirecting or retargeting a virus through genetic engineering. Retargeted measles virus can recognize surface molecules found only on cancerous cells, allowing selective killing. In this way, retargeted cancer-killing viruses help the body, rather than harming it as natural viruses do when they infect cells. In the current issue of the Journal of Virology, http://jvi.asm.org/ the researchers describe how they invented a way to engineer an alternative outer covering (coat) for the virus, using pieces from an animal virus that cannot infect humans.

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