Oxford team engineers virus to attack cancer cells

A team of researchers at Oxford University say that they have refined their ability to engineer a virus that targets specific cells, offering a new approach to treating cancer and creating a new generation of vaccines for viral diseases.

This new approach maintains "wild type" virus potency for tumor cells but is turned off for other tissues. This engineered virus worked in mice, but the scientists note that it will have to be re-engineered again before it can be tested in humans.

"This approach is surprisingly effective and quite versatile. It could find a range of applications in controlling the activity of therapeutic viruses, both for cancer research and also to engineer a new generation of conditionally-replicating vaccines, where the vaccine pathogen is disabled in its primary sites of toxicity," Professor Len Seymour says.

- read the press release

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