Friday, January 14, 2011

Measles virus used to combat cancer

A research team in the Mayo Clinic and University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have discovered that measles virus could be altered to infect tumor cells, and thereby treat cancer!

They came to this conclusion after finding novel data on how measles virus enters cells. Two proteins - attachment protein and fusion protein - on the envelope of the helical virus binds to the host and allows fusion with the hosts' cell membrane, respectively. They found that the flexibility of the attachment protein was necessary to initiate cell fusion. The flexibility refers to the ability of the attachment protein's heads to twist to allow entry into cells. Successful twisting and entry allows the virus to infect cells. Thus, the researchers are now doing experiments by mutating measles virus envelope proteins to specifically infect tumor cells in cancer.


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