A genetically reprogrammed Herpes simplex virus (HSV) can cure metastatic diffusion of human cancer cells in the abdomen of laboratory mice, according to a new study published January 31 in the Open Access journal PLOS Pathogens. The paper reports on the collaborative research from scientists at the at the University of Bologna and specifically describes that the HSV converted into a therapeutic anticancer agent attacks breast and ovarian cancer metastases.
Past decades have witnessed significant progress in the ability to treat numerous cancers by means of surgery, chemo- and radio-therapy, or combinations thereof. However, many treatments prolong life for a short time only, or are associated with a poor quality of life.
Lead investigator Gabriella Campadelli-Fiume and colleagues re-engineered the entry apparatus of a candidate oncolytic herpesvirus. The reprogrammed virus no longer infects the cells usually targeted by the wild-type virus, nor does it cause herpes-related pathologies. Rather, it acts as a specific weapon against tumor cells that express the HER-2 oncogene.