`An engineered virus tracks down and infects the most common and deadly form of brain cancer and then kills tumor cells by forcing them to devour themselves, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The modified adenovirus homed in on malignant glioma cells in mice and induced enough self-cannibalization among the cancer cells — a process called autophagy — to reduce tumor size and extend survival, says senior author Seiji Kondo, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at M. D. Anderson.
”This virus uses telomerase, an enzyme found in 80 percent of brain tumors, as a target,” Kondo says. ”Once the virus enters the cell, it needs telomerase to replicate. Normal brain tissue does not have telomerase, so this virus replicates only in cancer cells.”’