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Modified measles virus may help treat childhood brain tumours

In a new study, a modified measles virus has shown potential for treating childhood brain tumour known as medulloblastoma.

Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant central nervous system tumour of childhood, accounting for about 20 percent of paediatric brain tumours.

These tumours are located in the cerebellum, the area of the brain that controls balance and other complex motor functions. Refinements in treatment have increased the 5-year survival to close to 70 percent, but treatment still involves invasive surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

"There is still an urgent need to investigate alternative therapeutic approaches that are more effective and have less toxic side effects," said study lead author Corey Raffel, chief of Neurosurgery at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a faculty member of The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Vaccine strains of measles virus have been used to kill tumour cells in a number of tumour types including one type of adult brain tumour. One vaccine strain of measles, the Edmonston strain, targets the cell surface receptor CD46 to gain entry into susceptible cells.

"This preference most likely explains the efficacy of Edmonston strains in killing tumour cells, given the high level of expression of CD46 in multiple tumour types. It is also the reason we chose to explore a modified Edmonston's strain of measles virus for use in medulloblastoma," said Dr. Raffel.
 
 

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