Oncolytic viruses effectively target and kill pancreatic cancer stem cells

Oncolytic viruses quickly infect and kill cancer stem cells, which may provide a treatment for tumors that are resistant to conventional chemotherapy and radiation, particularly pancreatic cancer, according to new research from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The findings are especially important since pancreatic cancer has a poor prognosis and is difficult to detect and treat at early stages.

Investigators led by Joyce Wong, MD, surgical researcher with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, investigated whether they could use oncolytic viruses, which are naturally occurring viruses that have been genetically engineered to be safe and express tracking genes, as a possible therapy against stem cells. These stem cells are thought to cause disease recurrence and metastasis, even after therapy, and oncolytic viruses may offer a new treatment strategy.

"What we learned is that oncolytic viruses have been engineered to selectively target and have a low toxicity profile in animal studies," said Dr. Wong. "Targeting the cancer stem cell may enhance our ability to eradicate tumors and prevent future recurrence of disease."

While much research has been performed on isolating the cancer stem cell from various hematologic cancers, this research was based on the presence or absence of certain cell surface markers. Numerous mechanisms of how these cancer stem cells resist chemotherapy and radiation have also been examined. But to date, there have not been any studies evaluating whether genetically engineered viruses can target and kill pancreatic cancer stem cells.

Investigators sought to determine whether the viruses containing a marker gene that expresses could infect pancreatic cancer and ultimately kill the cancer stem cell. Their findings were promising and documented that viral activity was correlated with green fluorescent .

Dr. Wong added that future studies are warranted to determine whether oncolytic virus administration in vivo will help eradicate tumors and prevent future , and that while these initial findings are encouraging, further study is necessary to see whether oncolytic viruses will be clinically useful as a therapy.

Dr. Wong will present these data on Monday, May 9 at 10:00 a.m. CT in S505, McCormick Place.

Provided by Digestive Disease Week

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Scientists isolate cancer stem cells

Sep 11, 2008

After years of working toward this goal, scientists at the OU Cancer Institute have found a way to isolate cancer stem cells in tumors so they can target the cells and kill them, keeping cancer from returning.

Cancer-killing viruses influence tumor blood-vessel growth

Jun 11, 2008

Viruses genetically designed to kill cancer cells offer a promising strategy for treating incurable brain tumors such as glioblastoma, but the body's natural defenses often eliminate the viruses before they can eliminate ...

Ovarian cancer stem cells identified, characterized

Apr 17, 2008

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have identified, characterized and cloned ovarian cancer stem cells and have shown that these stem cells may be the source of ovarian cancer’s recurrence and its resistance to chemotherapy.

Therapy may block expansion of breast cancer cells

Nov 05, 2008

Breast cancer stem cells are known to be involved in therapy resistance and the recurrence of cancerous tumors. A new study appearing in Clinical and Translational Science shows the mechanisms governing stem cell expansion in bre ...

Recommended for you

ACG: Recent increase in incidence of young-onset CRC

3 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The incidence of young-onset colorectal cancer (CRC) is increasing, and the disease is more aggressive pathologically. These findings are being presented at the annual meeting of the American ...

User comments