Virus that does not cause disease kills human breast cancer cells in the laboratory, finds study. This finding would create opportunities for potential new cancer therapies.
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, made the findings.
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 tumour cell death in cervical cancer cells infected with human papillomavirus.
Researchers used an unaltered, naturally occurring version of AAV2 on human breast cancer cells.
"Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the world and is the leading cause of cancer-related death in women. It is also complex to treat," said Samina Alam, Ph.D., research associate in microbiology and immunology.
Craig Meyers, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology, said breast cancer is problematic to treat because of its multiple stages.
"Because it has multiple stages, you can't treat all the women the same. Currently, treatment of breast cancer is dependent on multiple factors such as hormone-dependency, invasiveness and metastases, drug resistance and potential toxicities," Meyers said.
"Our study shows that AAV2, as a single entity, targets all different grades of breast cancer," he stated.
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.
Research needs to be completed to learn how AAV2 is killing cancer cells and which of its proteins are activating the death pathways.