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Tame virus kills cancer cells


A so-called “tame” virus could be used in the fight against prostate cancer, research has suggested.

Scientists found that the “reovirus”, which is common but essentially harmless, killed cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unharmed when given to six volunteer patients.

Those exposed to the virus suffered, at worst, mild flu-like symptoms and diarrhoea. In terms of fighting the cancer, analysis showed not only that the virus had killed cancer cells, but that it also seemed to prevent the replication of the cells in non-cancerous areas of the prostate.

Researchers hope it can be used elsewhere, with evidence suggesting it may be effective against lymphoid, ovarian, breast, pancreatic and high grade glioma brain cancers.

Study leader Dr Don Morris, from the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Alberta, said: “Our results are a stepping stone into future prostate cancer clinical trials with another category of cancer therapeutics.”

Around 35,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, 10,000 of which die.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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