[MOL] Re: Canadian Research: Cancer Kiling Virus [03036] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] Re: Canadian Research: Cancer Kiling Virus





> Wednesday June 28 1:43 PM ET
> Canada Researchers Make Major Anti-Cancer Discovery
> By David Ljunggren
>
> OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian researchers said on Wednesday they had made a
> potentially significant breakthrough in the fight against cancer by
> discovering that tumor cells could be killed by injecting them with a rare
> virus.
>
> Dr John Bell of the University of Ottawa said his team had found many
common
> cancers were destroyed by Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV), which is not
> infectious in humans.
>
> ``We're excited. We think this is an important step forward,'' he told
> Reuters in an interview. In laboratory tests the new treatment killed
cells
> from melanomas and leukemia as well as lung, breast and prostate cancers.
>
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>
>  Bell said 15 years of research into tumors had shown that many cancer
cells
> suffered from a genetic flaw that made them vulnerable to VSV, which has
been
> under study for the last 50 years or so.
>
> ``Knowing what this (genetic) defect was and knowing the properties of the
> virus, we thought this would be a good fit. So we then tested the virus
and
> sure enough it was very effective,'' said Bell.
>
> More tests will now be carried out on laboratory animals and if all goes
well
> the first clinical trials on human beings could start in about 18 months.
>
> ``Dr Bell's findings are potentially very important. We look forward to
> seeing the results of the preclinical studies to evaluate the possible
> efficacy of this virus as a cancer therapy,'' said Robert Phillips, head
of
> Canada's National Cancer Institute.
>
> Cancer is the second biggest killer in most developed countries after
heart
> disease. In 1997 the World Health Organization said 10 million people were
> diagnosed a year with the disease and six million died.
>
> ``There are other people out there in Canada, the United States and Europe
> who are working on viruses as well and we think probably their viruses are
> working the same way that ours is and they haven't appreciated it yet,''
said
> Bell.
>
> The team experimented on human melanoma cells which had been transplanted
on
> to mice and also worked on other kinds of human cancer cells grown in
> laboratories. The findings will be published in the July 1 edition of
Nature
> Medicine magazine.
>
> The one possible cloud on the horizon is how human patients react to the
> large amounts of VSV that Bell's team said would have to be administered
for
> the treatment to be effective.
>
> ``We have to do some more work to convince ourselves this wouldn't be
toxic
> to humans. We don't think it will be but we have to be absolutely sure,''
he
> said.
>
> ``Right now, everything we have suggests to us that normal humans would
not
> be affected by the virus, since mice are not but human tumors are. That's
why
> we're fairly optimistic.''
>
> Another problem is making enough pharmaceutical-grade VSV for the trials
and
> the University of Ottawa has signed a deal with Maryland-based Pro-Virus
Inc.
> to ensure a steady supply.
>
> ``Whether it's the virus or the defect or the combination we've discovered
we
> think this will have important implications in developing new therapies,''
> Bell said.
>
> ``I don't think we're trying to get anyone's hopes up. I think the people
out
> there dealing with cancer every day need to have something to be
optimistic
> about. In their battle they need to have something on the horizon.''
>

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