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.