Oct 18, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Virus Used By Scientists To Attack Tumor Cells

Mar 17, 2017 04:11 AM EDT

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For cancer patients, the battle doesn't stop as soon as they get their treatments. Once the treatment is over, the patient's body continuously recovers and several side effects are observed. However, with the newest finding by the IDIBAPS Biomedical Research Institute and at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), a unique virus is found out to attack tumor cells without harming the healthy cells.

In an article in Science Daily, the study by Eneko Villanueva, Cristina Fillat, and Raúl Méndez which was published on Nature Communications looked into how a virus can be utilized as a possible treatment for cancer. Through their study, they were able to study the oncolytic viruses, a virus known to target cancer cells. The three researchers are aware that there were several studies on the virus throughout the years, but they also observed that there's been a direct relation between the potency and toxicity of the virus.

But to set a new key finding, Villanueva, Fillat, and Méndez chose to use an adenovirus, a virus known to cause asymptomatic respiratory tract infections, to kill tumor cells. Méndez explained further in the official report of IRB Barcelona that they took advantage of a special protein called the cytoplasmic polyadenylation element binding protein (CPEB) which is usually present in tumor tissues.

The CPEB belongs to a family of only four RNA binding proteins. It is also known to activate RNAs for translation and can also act as a repressor at the same time. Méndez further explained that when these CPEBs experience imbalances, this leads to the development of cancer. With their study, they aimed to modify the genome of adenoviruses so that it can detect and recognize CPEBs. In their experiment, they tested the effectiveness of the said virus in an in vitro model of pancreatic cancer in mice.

Fillat also explained further that this modified virus replicates its genome when it enters the tumor cells, thus destroying the tumor cells and further infects other tumor cells. Fillat also added how this new approach can actually lead to possible treatments for other types of cancer which develops solid tumors.

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