Using high-resolution microscopy images, researchers at the University of Otago have discovered how an anti-cancer virus interacts with tumor cells. This development is significant because it has the potential to save many lives who have fallen victim to cancer.
The virus is known as Seneca Valley Virus (SVV). The virus does not infect normal tissue. Instead, SVV infects cancer cells.
Researchers hope the results from the most recent study will assist in developing the virus for clinical use.
Research has centered on using cryo-electron microscopy to establish thousands of images of the virus bound to its receptor. Through testing and observation, it has been revealed that SVV discriminates between cancer cells and healthy tissue. SVV prefers the cancer cells, while leaving other cells alone.
Clinical trials have shown strong cancer-fighting
They think SVV is a viable option for successful virotherapy because SVV chooses to target a receptor found solely in tumor cells in roughly sixty percent of human cancers.
The receptor is known as the protein ANTXR1 and is found on human tumors. ANTXR2 is the cousin of this receptor and is found only on healthy tissue. SVV will only bind to the former.
Clinical trials have shown strong cancer-fighting abilities for SVV. One significant problem exists though. This involves the body developing an immunity to the virus within a few weeks.
A virus that eliminates cancer cells
The challenge then becomes to allow SVV to escape the attacks of our immune system. This is vital for the cancer patient who is hoping to survive. Researchers are currently focusing on how to allow SVV to become even more efficient at invading cancer cells and leaving the parts that interact with the cancer cells intact.
The researchers working on implementing SVV into cancer therapy find this work very rewarding and look forward to going into work every day to work on a virus that eliminates cancer cells. It makes sense that this work is rewarding for the people working on it. This is because in the future this research could lead to significant improvements in cancer research, which can currently be considered a global health issue.