An anonymous reader writes: A nondisease-causing virus kills human breast cancer cells in the laboratory, creating opportunities for potential new cancer therapies, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers who tested the virus on three different breast cancer types that represent the multiple stages of breast cancer development.
Adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) is a virus that regularly infects humans but causes no disease. Past studies by the same researchers show that it promotes tumor cell death in cervical cancer cells infected with human papillomavirus. Researchers used an unaltered, naturally occurring version of AAV2 on human breast cancer cells.
Cells have multiple ways of dying. If damage occurs in a healthy cell, the cell turns on production and activation of specific proteins that allow the cell to commit suicide. However, in cancer cells these death pathways often are turned off, while the proteins that allow the cell to divide and multiply are stuck in the "on" position.
One way to fight cancer is to find ways to turn on these death pathways, which is what researchers believe is happening with the AAV2 virus.
In tissue culture dishes in the laboratory, 100 percent of the cancer cells are destroyed by the virus within seven days, with the majority of the cell death proteins activated on the fifth day. In another study, a fourth breast cancer derived cell line, which is the most aggressive, required three weeks to undergo cell death.