Veterinary scientists explore poultry virus as cancer killer

Apr 09, 2007

Virologists in the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM) at Virginia Tech are looking at how a genetically modified variant of Avian Newcastle disease virus (NDV) can treat human prostate cancer.

Dr. Elankurmaran Subbiah, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, was awarded a prestigious research grant by the Department of Defense. This “Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program” award will support the exploration and hypothesis development for an innovative approach to treating prostate cancer.

Subbiah and his co-investigator, Dr. Siba K. Samal, associate dean, University of Maryland campus, received a $113,250 grant for their ongoing work using a genetically modified version of NDV to treat prostate cancer in humans.

Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). The ACS estimates there will be almost 219,000 new cases of prostate cancer reported in the United States in 2007.

According to Subbiah, the use of poultry viruses as cancer therapy poses no threat to humans and several other oncolytic viruses are currently being explored to treat cancer. However, Subbiah’s work is the first to alter Newcastle disease virus through a reverse genetic system to target prostate cancer specifically.

Reverse genetics is the process of generating a recombinant virus from cloned complimentary DNA (cDNA) copy of a viral genome, explains Subbiah. Through the reverse genetics system, recombinant viruses can be designed to have specific properties that make them attractive as biotechnological tools, live vaccines, and cancer therapeutics. This is achieved through the introduction of the desired changes in the cDNA, which are then transferred faithfully to the recombinant virus.

In the current investigation, Subbiah and his associates are altering the fusion protein of NDV to replicate only in the presence of prostate specific antigen (PSA), which is found exclusively in cancerous prostate cells.

Normal, healthy cells have an interferon antiviral system that activates upon infection with NDV thereby preventing replication of the virus, explains Dr. Subbiah. Cancer cells, however, have defective interferon antiviral systems, he said. NDV utilizes the defects to replicate in the diseased cells. The replication of NDV leads to the death of the cancer cell by a process called apoptosis - also known as programmed cell death or cell suicide- in the cell.

Source: Virginia Tech

Explore further: Low risk of malignancy for small complex adnexal masses

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Imaging the chemistry of the global atmosphere

19 minutes ago

With an airborne, globe-spanning study of the Earth's atmosphere, a Harvard-led team hopes to establish how air pollution from human activities reacts with greenhouse gases. The findings will develop the ...

Recommended for you

Researcher to cancer: 'Resistance will be futile'

5 hours ago

Turning the tables, Katherine Borden at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) has evoked Star Trek's Borg in her fight against the disease. "Cancer cells rapidly ...

How does prostate cancer form?

7 hours ago

Prostate cancer affects more than 23,000 men this year in the USA however the individual genes that initiate prostate cancer formation are poorly understood. Finding an enzyme that regulates this process ...

Low risk of malignancy for small complex adnexal masses

14 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For older women with small complex adnexal masses, the overall risk of malignancy is low, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.