Measles virus may be let loose against cancer cells

A marker for tumor cells is also a receptor for the measles virus. This finding might mean measles could be deployed against different types of cancers. Chris Richardson of Dalhousie Medical School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and colleagues made the discovery, which appears in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

The name of the cell marker is PVRL4, and it's found in airway cells--something that is quite convenient for the measles virus, since it infects tissue in the respiratory tract and lungs. Large amounts of PVRL4 are also present in many cancers that originate from the lung, breast, colon and ovaries, the researchers said.

This is not the first time the cancer-fighting prowess of measles has been shown--Mayo Clinic researchers had already reported it. However, it is the first time the virus has been shown to target a common receptor to many different types of cancers. Next will come experiments with mice to see how well it works.

- read the release
- and the abstract in PLoS Pathogens