Scientists propose using therapeutic viruses for potential cancer treatment

Cancer is the abnormal growth and uncontrollable spread of cells from a certain tissue, blood, system or organ to the rest of the body.

Also called tumor cells, the disease has long been thought to be caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, as well as lifestyle choices, including unhealthy foods and habits. Cancer is considered the leading cause of death worldwide.

Recent research has shown that certain viruses cause cancer to develop inside the body, including the latest discovery of their role in triggering Alzheimer’s disease. Regardless of their relationship, cancer cells and viruses are classified as threats by the body’s immune system, which has evolved over millions of years to fight off invasive tumors and infectious pathogens.

(Photo: Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images)

Now therapeutic viruses are being proposed by researchers to have cancer treatment potential, according to a US-led study. Scientists say the therapy boosts the immune system for its role in fighting cancer cells. This unprecedented discovery exposes the vulnerability of our immune response, no matter how complex. Yet the discovery also sheds light on its maximum capacity.

The science team explores the process of autosis, a form of cell death that depends on the biological process of autophagy and is characterized by unique morphological and biochemical characteristics. With this, the team employs a combination of immunotherapy and virotherapy, to enable the destruction of cancer cells. The method is primarily aimed at helping patients with treatment-resistant cancers.

Therapeutic viruses and cancer treatment

Cancer vaccine, virus

(Photo: Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images)

The new findings on therapeutic viruses and cancer treatment have been published in the journal cancer cell on August 25, where researchers at Arizona State University showed that a combination of two therapies showed promising results for “treatment-resistant cancers.”

The new article focuses on the induction of tumor cells by autosis. This has been made possible through the use of oncolytic viruses which have the ability to seek out and destroy cancer cells; while leaving healthy cells unharmed and boosting the immune’s ability to target cancer cells.

Read also : Experts develop effective personalized cancer vaccine in mice

Immunotherapy and virotherapy

In a bid to destroy cancer cells, the new study describes how combined immunotherapy and virotherapy, using the myxoma virus, lead to the new anti-cancer approach, as mentioned by the AAAS.

In summary, existing oncolytic virotherapy, a technique that uses anticancer viruses, can act in synchronization with conventional immunotherapy techniques.

The work confirms the high potential of combining virotherapy with cell therapy to treat today’s incurable cancers, according to McFadden, quoted by AAAS.

Viruses that cause cancer

The theoretical basis of the new research is likely comparable to the fact that viruses replicate inside the body by invading healthy cells. It is for this reason alone that viral infections could also fight cancer cells.

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) said that there are seven viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, papillomavirus 16 and 18, herpes virus associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma, hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus, human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, Merkel cell polyomavirus.

Related article: Experimental cancer-killing virus injected into patient in new clinical trial

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