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Might Smallpox Virus Help Fight a Lethal Breast Cancer?

New animal research suggests it may be possible to use a form of smallpox virus to infect and kill the tumor cells of a particularly virulent form of breast cancer.

To date, this novel approach to attacking what's known as triple-negative breast cancer has centered exclusively around work with mice.

By loading up the live "vaccinia" virus in the smallpox vaccine with a specific type of protein, researchers from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto, Calif., found they could target and disable these particular cancer cells.

"One of the reasons I wanted to focus on [triple-negative breast cancer] is that there aren't many long-term treatment options for these patients," lead author Dr. Sepideh Gholami explained in an American College of Surgeons news release.

The findings were scheduled for presentation Monday at a meeting of the American College of Surgeons in Chicago.

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