Custom virus used to cure prostate cancer in mice

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, June 20, 2011 10:38 EDT
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Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN recently cured prostate cancer in mice through use of a custom virus embedded with a “library” of DNA meant to trigger an immune reaction, a biomedical research journal has reported.

The method is an evolution of gene therapy treatments administered to cancer patients today. The difference, the report in Nature Medicine noted, was how the genes were delivered, and how many there were.

Mice were given injections of a custom-made virus, embedded with a “library” of genes instead of just one, as a way of triggering the immune system to produce numerous antigens that attack the cancer cells. Previous treatments have delivered just a single gene, and doctors were worried that delivering multiples would send the subject’s immune system into overdrive.

However, because the genes were pulled directly from the afflicted organ, researchers found that instead of severe side effects, the mice’s immune systems “self selected” the right antigens and completely eradicated the cancer cells.

The study marked the first time a virus has been used to deliver a gene “library” therapy, and researchers called it a possible breakthrough in the search for effective treatments in human subjects.

(H/T: Medical Xpress)

Image credit: Flickr commons.

Correction: An earlier version of this article cited Rochester, New York instead of Rochester, Minnesota.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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