Virus kills melanoma in animal model, spares normal cells

April 23, 2013

Researchers from Yale University School of Medicine have demonstrated that vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is highly competent at finding, infecting, and killing human melanoma cells, both in vitro and in animal models, while having little propensity to infect non-cancerous cells.

"If it works as well in humans, this could confer a substantial benefit on patients afflicted with this deadly disease," says Anthony van den Pol, a researcher on the study. The research was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Virology.

Most normal cells resist virus infection by activating antiviral processes that protect . "The working hypothesis was that since many show a deficient ability to withstand virus infection, maybe a fast-acting virus such as VSV would be able to infect and kill cancer cells before the virus was eliminated by the immune system," says van den Pol. And indeed, the virus was able to selectively infect multiple deadly human melanomas that had been implanted in a mouse model, yet showed little infectivity towards normal mouse cells, he says.

Many different mechanisms are involved in innate immunity, the type of immunity that combats viral infection. van den Pol plans to investigate which specific mechanisms are malfunctioning in cancer cells, knowledge that would be hugely beneficial both in understanding how cancer affects immunity, and in enhancing a virus' ability to target cancer cells, he says.

Melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer. Most melanomas are incurable once they have metastasized into the body. The incidence of melanoma has tripled over the , and it accounts for approximately 75 percent of skin cancer-related deaths.

Explore further: Virus a potential future cancer medicine

More information: G. Wollmann, J.N. Davis, M.W. Bosenberg, and A.N. van den Pol, 2013. Vesicular stomatitis virus variants selectively infect and kill human melanomas but not normal melanocytes. J. Virol. Published ahead of print 3 April 2013 , doi:10.1128/JVI.03311-12

Related Stories

Virus a potential future cancer medicine

September 16, 2011

In a new project, researchers from LIFE – the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen – document that the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) plays a previously unknown dual role in the prevention ...

Viruses kill pancreatic tumors in preclinical model

March 20, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- An intra-tumor injection of a virus prevented further growth of some pancreatic tumors and eradicated others in mouse models of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. However, some tumors continued growing ...

Recommended for you

New findings offer hope for diabetic wound healing

November 23, 2015

University of Notre Dame researchers have discovered a compound that accelerates diabetic wound healing, which may open the door to new treatment strategies. Non-healing chronic wounds are a major complication of diabetes, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.