Cancer cells send out the alarm on tumor-killing virus

Darrell E. Ward
EurekAlert

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Brain-tumor cells that are infected with a cancer-killing virus release a protein “alarm bell” that warns other tumor cells of the impending infection and enables them to mount a defense against the virus, according to a study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

The infected tumor cells release a protein called CCN1 into the narrow space between cells where it initiates an antiviral response. The response limits the spread of the oncolytic virus through the tumor, reducing its ability to kill cancer cells and limiting the efficacy of the therapy.

The study suggests that cells in general might use this mechanism to help control viral infections, and that blocking the response might improve oncolytic viral therapy for glioblastoma and perhaps future gene therapy treatments.

Oncolytic viruses replicate in tumor cells and kill them. They have shown promise for the treatment of glioblastoma, the most common and deadly form of brain cancer. Patients with glioblastoma survive about 15 months after diagnosis on average, so there is great need for new treatments.

The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Cancer Research.

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