Can a virus be ‘trained’ to fight ovarian cancer?

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A Cardiff scientist is to explore whether viruses can be “trained” to tackle ovarian cancer after being given a £250,000 Cancer Research UK grant.

Dr. Alan Parker, a senior lecturer at Cardiff University, will lead a team to examine and alter the Ad5 virus…[He] will use new technology to see if it can be genetically modified to destroy cancer cells.

“Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and five-year survival has remained stubbornly unchanged, at around 40%, for almost 25 years,” Dr. Parker said. “Using viruses as a way to treat cancer is becoming more common and we’re already seeing that some are showing great promise. People often think viruses are bad. However, they can actually be ‘trained’ to be an effective cancer treatment.”

“We want to understand how the virus infects cells so we can engineer or ‘train’ the virus to be a force for good by identifying and killing cancer cells,” [he said].

The research is estimated to take between five and 10 years to complete and, if successful, it is hoped it could also treat other forms of the disease including breast, prostate and pancreatic cancers.

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