The vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), belonging to the same family as the deadly Rabies-virus, has been found to kill cancer cells while also killing the molecules which hides cancer cells from the immune system.
What makes certain types of cancer more fatal than others is that the immune system cannot recognize them, which allows the cancer to continue developing and growing. According to Associate Professor Søren Skov and PhD student Helle Jensen at the University of Copenhagen, "Virus a potential future cancer medicine," the vesicular stomatitis virus has been found to play a dual role in killing cancer cells.
In a press release by Eureka Alert, PhD student Helle Jensen infected human cancer cells with SVS, as part of the research project in order to study the potential for improving cancer treatment by simply strengthening the immune system.
"We were able to demonstrate that the virus kills cancer cells. The results also show that VSV effectively blocks the production of the immunostimulatory molecules which certain types of cancer overexpress to destroy the immune system and thus the chances of survival," Associate Professor Skov says.
Vesicular stomatitis is considered an acute virus vesicular disease of insects and mammals, especially cattle, horses, deer, pigs and occasionally humans, reports Vet Med. It is able to infect both insects and mammals, but it resembles the foot-and-mouth disease when diagnosed in cattle.
But more important, it is a common laboratory virus that scientists and researchers use to study the viral evolution, in addition to the Rhabdoviridae or Rabis-virus. The VSV virus has been found to have oncolytic activity, or the killing of infected tumor cells. (Journals. ASM.org)
"The overexpression seen in cancer types such as melanoma, testicular cancer, ovarian cancer and certain types of leukaemia significantly impairs the immune system, thereby reducing the patient’s chance of recovery," says Associate Professor in immunology Søren Skov.