Research to deliver cancer-killing viruses to tumour cells

Scientists at the University of Oxford have invented a new linker to attach a cancer-killing virus to a tumour-targeting antibody, in research published in the scientific journal Molecular Immunology.

The new linker is built of molecular human components and is designed to bond a cell-killing virus to an antibody directed against a target cell, such as cancerous cell. Against Breast Cancer, who funded some of the research, hope that this method could be used to destroy secondary breast cancer cells that have trafficked from the breast to other parts of the body, namely the bone, liver, lung or brain. 

Iona Easthope who performed some of the research says: “We were excited to see that this linker connected a virus to the breast-cancer cell-targeting antibody in a stable manner at 37 degrees, as well as successfully retargeting the viruses to enter breast cancer cells without affecting the healthy cells.”

The re-targeting adaptor linker is an improvement on a similar product made up of bacterial components, which were recognised by the body as a threat and broken down before the treatment could be allowed to reach target cells and take effect.

One in five breast cancer cases result in fatal metastases, when breast cancer cells break away from the original tumour site and establish new tumours in bone, lung, liver or brain. The new linker could pave the way for better, more targeted treatment methods for many types of cancer, including Stage IV secondary cancers that have spread throughout the body.

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