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June 23, 2010 / Martijn

Cancer Therapy Goes Viral

The adapted virus that immunized hundreds of millions of people against smallpox has now been enlisted in the war on cancer. Vaccinia poxvirus joins a herpesvirus and a host of other pathogens on a growing list of engineered viruses entering late-stage human testing against cancer.

When the engineered viruses recognize and infect cancer cells, they replicate and sometimes destroy their hosts. Several of the viruses also release the gene for granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) an immune system protein. The GM-CSF attracts a swarm of white blood cells and other immune system operatives that mount a further attack on the tumor.

via Cancer Therapy Goes Viral: Progress Is Made Tackling Tumors with Viruses: Scientific American.

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