Researchers at St. Louis University are working on a new way to kill tumors using genetically engineered viruses that replicate only in cancer cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.
“These engineered viruses kill cancer cells through a mechanism that is completely different from chemotherapy or radiation” and that is potentially much safer, said Dr. William Wold of the university’s school of medicine.
The team reports in Saturday’s issue of the journal Cancer Research on two such viruses, called INGN 007 and INGN 009.
INGN 009 is able to attack only cells that carry a genetic mutation common in colon cancer. Wold and his colleagues showed that the virus would invade and kill colon cancer cells grown in a laboratory dish, but not lung cancer cells or healthy tissue.
INGN 007, designed to infect cells containing a mutation common in lung cancer, was shown to kill both colon and lung cancer cells in the laboratory.
Both viruses suppressed tumor growth significantly in test animals with colon cancer, while INGN 007 completely suppressed tumor growth in a lung cancer animal test.