"The irony is that one of the world's deadliest viruses may be useful in treating one of the deadliest of brain cancers," comments Yale's Anthony van den Pol, professor of neurosurgery, in a release.
This unlikely medical collaboration takes advantage of a fundamental weakness in cancerous tumors. Most cancer cells are unable to defend themselves with an immune response against viruses. This fact has caused researchers to test out the use of viruses in the fight against cancer. Of course, using viruses for medical purposes carries some inherent risk; viruses can potentially lead to dangerous infections in cancer patients.
So, in an effort to mitigate that risk, the team at Yale have been experimenting with producing and testing out chimeric viruses, or artificially created viruses created using a combination of genes from various viruses. Ideally, these chimeric viruses should be able to target and attack cancer cells without actually harming or infecting patients.