Scientists have created artificial designer viruses that stimulate the immune system which in turn activates and sends a “powerful army” of so-called “killer cells” to fight cancerous tumors.
The immune system is critical when fighting cancer. While some treatments kill cancer cells and other treatments revert the cancer cells into normal cells, the immune system still has to be fixed before the patient is whole.
Stimulating the immune system to specifically and wholeheartedly combat cancer cells, however, has remained a distant goal.
The innovative designer viruses, manufactured by Swiss scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the University of Basel, could do exactly that.
The researchers built artificial viruses based on lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which can infect both rodents and humans.
The combination of the virus triggering the alarm system and the cancer proteins was found to create a powerful army of cytotoxic T-lymphocytes, also known as killer cells, which identified the cancer cells through their protein and successfully destroyed them.
“We hope that our new findings and technologies will soon be used in cancer treatments and so help to further increase their success rates,” said Professor Daniel Pinschewer, lead researcher from the University of Basel.
In mice, the treatment was shown to bring remission and researchers are keen to move to human trials.
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.