Ottawa Researchers Find
Virus That Kills Cancer Cells
OTTAWA (CP) - A benign virus that causes mild flu-like symptoms in humans is deadly to cancer cells in lab tests, a team of Ottawa-based researchers has found.
The researchers from the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre found the virus destroyed a wide variety of cancer cells, including melanoma, lung, colon and breast cancers. "We found that every tumour cell that we infected was completely blown away by this virus very quickly, whereas normal cells were quite resistant to the virus," said researcher Dr. John Bell.
The university has applied for a patent on therapy using the discovery. In concert with an American biotechnology firm, the university hopes to begin clinical trials on cancer patients within 18 months.
The research into the vesicular stomatitis virus, or VSV, is published in the July 1 issue of Nature Medicine, a British medical journal.
Bell and his team found that a genetic defect that makes a cell cancerous also leaves it vulnerable to invasion by the virus.
The tests were done on mice that had been infected with human cancer cells.
The National Cancer Institute of Canada called the findings "potentially very important" and said it was anxious to evaluate the findings.
Bell said he doesn't known if the therapy will be effective in treating humans.
"This paper is just a description of our studies right now in mice and we are excited about it and want to go on to humans, but that's the next step." © The Canadian Press, 2000

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