Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center published a paper in PLoS One, outlining their new technique for using an altered virus to find cancers that are invisible to medical scans, reports Katherine Harmon at the Scientific American Observations blog. The virus, a modified herpes virus, is genetically engineered to work only on cancer cells — it delivers genetic information to these cells that induces them to release a known cancer biomarker into the blood, the researchers said in a statement. The biomarker can then be found in urine or blood tests. The virus could help track down cancer cells that are too small or hidden to be seen by conventional screening methods, and could help track treatment progress and eventually even shrink the tumors, Harmon says. So far, the researchers have only worked with mice, so their technique would have to validated in humans, but if it proves to be as efficacious in people, "it could help make cancer screening more universal," she adds.
Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
May 12, 2011