The vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), belonging to the same family as the deadly Rabies-virus, has been found to play a dual role in killing cancer cells.
Certain types of cancer cells express far too many liquid immunostimulatory molecules, blocking the immune system's ability to recognise them, and enabling them to continue the development of cancer.
As part of the research project, PhD student Helle Jensen infected human cancer cells with VSV.
The researchers found that the virus both kills cancer cells and stops the expression of the molecules, which certain types of cancer cells produce to hide from the immune system.
This is a clear breakthrough and a giant leap towards better cancer treatment. The immune system will be able to more effectively stop the development of cancer when not sidelined, said Associate Professor in immunology Soren Skov from LIFE.
In addition, it is possible to mutate the virus and thus adapt it to the relevant type of cancer. There is thus a potential for a future alternative to chemotherapy, tailored to the individual patient, he added.