Researchers who are using viruses in order to combat cancer have reportedly found a way to represent the disease from returning. This is achieved by targeting the healthy cells tumors enslave to use as life support and camouflage.
Experts from the University of Oxford claim that this is the very first time that they have been able to target the fibroblasts cells supporting the tumors.
This was done without causing toxic reactions for the healthy tissue, reports the Independent.
This attack could allow doctors to target tumors and unmask their cancer cells which trigger the immune system attack the invaders.
Killing both cancer cells and the fibroblasts protecting them
The tests were safe and effective in mice, and in-lab samples of human carcinomas – these are the most common type of tumors that appear.
“Even when most of the cancer cells in a carcinoma are killed, fibroblasts can protect the residual cancer cells and help them to recover and flourish,” said Dr. Kerry Fisher, from the University of Oxford’s Department of Oncology, who led the research.
“Until now, there has not been any way to kill both cancer cells and the fibroblasts protecting them at the same time, without harming the rest of the body.”
This technique is a new one, but the virus that’s used to attack cancer is already a part of human trials to test safety and efficiency as an immunotherapy treatment.
This is a broad term for a new generation of techniques which are using the immune system as a part of the treatment.
In this particular case, the virus kills cancer cells, and this damage will also be triggering a response from the immune system.
“We hope our modified virus will be moving towards clinical trials as early as next year to find out if it is safe and effective in people with cancer,” Dr. Fisher added.
The results have been published in the journal Cancer Research, and the study used a virus called enadenotucirev. It was developed to only target cancer cells and leave the healthy ones untouched.
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