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New virus helps combat brain tumours

4 December 2009

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Category: Research & medical benefits

mouse–mice–lab.jpgAggressive brain tumours can be killed and prevented from recurring using a virus, a new study using mice has found.

The specially designed virus produces a protein called vasculostatin, stopping the growth of new tumour blood vessels. Research has proven that it is particularly effective against gliobastomas - deadly tumours which have high numbers of blood vessels.

Researchers studied the effects of the virus on mice with human tumours under the skin and in the brain. They discovered that the mice affected with brain tumours and treated with the virus lived significantly longer on average than those without. One mouse remained tumour free for up to 120 days after the treatment, whereas there were no long term survivors in the control group

Brain tumours can be treated using a combination of methods involving drugs, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery. Statistics show that less than a third of adults diagnosed with a brain tumour live for at least one year. After 5 years the survival rate drops to 14%.

The study provides a potential new therapeutic strategy for fighting cancer, but further studies will be needed to understand how the virus works in combination with other treatments such as radiotherapy.