A protein common on some types of cancer cell turns out to be the same one that in other circumstances allows the poliovirus to latch on to its host.
The discovery that the protein – known as CD155 – plays a role in both diseases has led to a leap forward in explaining earlier research that found that a modified poliovirus – the type used in the manufacture of vaccines – attacks tumour cells.
The ability of modified polioviruses to both attack tumour cells and simultaneously induce the body’s own immune response was first noted some years ago. It and several other modified viruses, including herpes simplex type 1, adenovirus and measles, are the subject of much research to determine their effectiveness at tackling brain cancer.
First, the poliovirus attaches to the CD155 protein, infecting and killing many tumour cells. This prompts the tumour cells to release antigens.
The immune system response to this is modified and amplified by the second stage of the poliovirus assault. The virus confronts dendritic cells and phages. The dendritic cells prompt T-cells to launch a defensive action against the polio-infected tumour cells.
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