Sunday, March 15, 2015

Parvovirus-based Cancer Therapies in the Future?

According to previous studies, there is evidence that parvoviruses, such as the minute virus of mice  (MVM) and rat H-1 PV, may be potential novel anticancer agents. In particular, a 2012 study by Allaume et al. demonstrated that there is potential for rat H-1 PV to have its capsid modified in order to be used efficiently as a cancer therapy.

For context, parvoviruses require the activity of a cellular enzyme called PDK1 kinase, which acts as a switch for many cellular functions. According to research conducted at the German Cancer Research Center, parvovirus H1 is unable to replicate in human cells and also is unable to activate the PDK1 pathway. In cancer cells, particularly in glioblastoma tissue samples, PDK1 had already been permanently activated (via phosphorylation). This leads parvovirus to selectively chose cancer cells, which has been the first reported case of a biomarker for viral therapeutics.  This research is particularly exciting because it gives a potential mechanism for how parvoviruses select cancer cells and in turn destroy them. 

In the future, the group at the German Cancer Research Center, also known as DFKZ, aims to develop a viral therapy that could be used for attacking cancerous cells in glioblastoma. In conjunction with this research, there has been a preliminary clinical trial at Heidelberg Neurosurgical University Hospital, where treatments with H1 viruses are being evaluated. This research presents particularly exciting future therapies using parvoviruses to treat cancers, and I hope that research continues without significant setbacks to employ this methodology!

- Nicole


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