Scientists have combined two genetically engineered viruses to attack brain tumors.
A News Release written by Cabell Smith 5/25/2001
Contact: Cabell Smith, (919)681-8067
Medical Center News Office
A team of researchers at Duke University Medical Center recently crossed the virus that causes polio with the virus that causes the common cold. They found that this new genetically engineered virus can kill malignant brain tumor cells in lab mice within six to eight hours, without any damage to normal cells. Duke University microbiologist Matthias Gromeier was the leader of the research team.
"We have an advanced degree of knowledge of these mechanisms and we can manipulate them in a way to make the virus selectively attack tumor cells and no longer destroy normal brain cells."
The polio virus by itself would attack and kill any brain cell with which in came into contact. Adding the genetic information from the rhinovirus, however, prevents damage to normal brain cells. Standard treatment options such as radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery often don't work and can be dangerous to normal, healthy brain tissue surrounding the tumor. Gromeier cautions that the new treatment is in very preliminary stages and has only been performed in the laboratory. Clinical trials on humans may begin as early as next year. I'm Tom Britt.
Gromeier says brain tumors are some of the toughest to fight, and this new treatment could offer a safe, effective way to destroy the cells in the tumor.
"Malignant brain tumors represent a serious challenge in oncologic treatment because they are resistant to currently available treatment options such as chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. We believe we have discovered a new therapeutic means to attack these tumors very efficiently."