New breakthrough in cancer research

A new discovery has been found to have positive consequences in the fight against cancer. Scientists have found that viruses that could target tumours can travel on blood cells preventing attack from the body’s immunity system. The challenge in fighting cancer has been that some treatments have previously been seen as a threat by the immune system.

Viruses that cause the common cold and some gastric disorders have been found to have a preference for targeting cancer cells and encouraging the immune system to respond more aggressively to cancer cells. The new viruses, known as “oncolytic” are a new development in the battle against cancer and are currently being tested to see if it is a viable therapy in treating human beings.

The use of “viral therapy” is a promising direction says scientists. It means the treatment can be easily implemented, at outpatient level in a similar way to chemotherapy and can combat a variety of cancers.

What is challenging scientists is how to introduce the viruses into the body without the immune system perceiving them as a threat. Direction injection into tumors is possible, but can be difficult especially in difficult to reach areas such as the liver or pancreas.

It was thought injection into the bloodstream would be not feasible as the time required for the viruses to reach the problem areas would leave them exposed to the immune system. But when this approach was tested directly by researchers from the University of Leeds they found the viruses attached themselves to blood cells and avoided the attention of the immune system.