A new study conducted by the Researchers at the Hebrew University led to the isolation of a variant of the Newcastle Disease Virus (NDV-HUJ). This virus affects the birds but the variant has a high affinity toward cancer cells.
Professors Amos Panet and Zichria Zakay-Rones, from the Department of Virology at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, have conducted experiments with this variant virus for the past 5 years. They have said that it is possible to create a new and effective weapon to fight against cancer. If this experiment is a success then it will completely change the way we look at viruses.
Viruses are obligatory parasites that require a living cell in order to multiply. They insert their genetic material inside the host genome and thereby facilitate the production of viral components resulting in the death of the cell. In case of the NDV-HUJ virus it requires cancer cells as the host cell. NDV-HUJ is a natural variant of NDV (Newcastle Disease Virus) and an attenuated variant too. It does not affect the normal cells.
One of the possible explanations for this interesting behavior is that cancer cells have some deficiency in the interferon system. Interferons are anti-viral substances hence these variant viruses prefer attacking the cancerous cells.
Chemotherapy is effective against the cancerous cells but affects the healthy tissues, such as the hair, skin, digestive and immune systems. On the other hand the NDV-HUJ virus enables doctors to specifically target cancer cells without causing harm to the healthy tissue.
Viro-therapy is a very old therapy originating in the 20th Century. The first stage o the research unraveled the NDV-HUJ genome, which has 6 genes and 15,068 nucleotides. Then it compared it with other strain of the NDV virus.
Then it studied the apoptotic mechanism of the virus. The NDV-HUJ virus treatment was experimented on 14 patients suffering from Glioblastoma Multiforme, (GBM), an aggressive type of primary brain tumor surprisingly they showed regression of the tumor. So far no side effects were observed. Further research has to be done regarding the Viro-therapy. But this would be the stepping-stone into the new era of cancer therapy.