News FocusOncology

Training Viruses to Attack Cancers

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Science  13 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5392, pp. 1244-1246
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5392.1244

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A growing assortment of viruses that replicate in and kill cancer cells, but not normal tissue, may be new weapons in the war on cancer. So far, researchers have come up with a half-dozen of these tumor-killing, or oncolytic, viruses, the latest of which is a reovirus described on page 1332. The reovirus--a type of virus that doesn't cause problems in humans--is not yet in clinical trials, but two other viruses are, and early results from one indicate that it can shrink tumors, particularly when used in conjunction with other therapies. Also in the works are oncolytic viruses that not only kill cancer cells but also carry genes that make the cells more susceptible to radiation or chemotherapy, thereby delivering a double blow to the tumor.