A common virus proves lethal to cancer cells

Canadian researchers say that a harmless and quite common virus could offer a new and effective approach to eliminating breast cancer stem cells--a prime target in the fight against the lethal disease.

Dr. Patrick Lee, a cancer researcher at Dalhousie Medical School, says he and his colleagues tested reovirus against breast cancer tissue extracted from patients and found that the virus attacked the cancer stem cells and surrounding cancer cells in the tissue samples. In addition, says the researcher, the reovirus stimulated the body's immune system to help ward off the cancer.

Lee and his team are investigating how the twin strategies would work in patients. Researchers have been focused particularly on cancer stem cells, noting their role in metastasis and how they resist currently used therapies like chemotherapy.

"Cancer stem cells are essentially mother cells. They continuously produce new cancer cells, aggressively forming tumors even when there are only a few of them," Lee tells HealthDay News.

- read the report in HealthDay News