Colon tumour, illustration. Photo: Getty Images
A new drug directly attacks tumors, generating porosities that slowly disintegrate them.
A team of scientists from the University of Zurich found an alternative solution to make the treatment of cancer therapies less aggressive towards sick patients. From the modification of the adenovirus, which attacks the respiratory system, it became a “Trojan horse” that attacks tumor cells.
A direct attack on cancerous tumors
Genetic modification of the adenovirus was shown to be effective in directly attacking cells that become malignant tumors. This method, in contrast to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, does not kill healthy cells, but also allows them to live normally.
Rather, it allows this “Trojan horse” to have a specific goal: cancerous tumor cells. Once they enter them, modified genes serve as a model that antibodies can mimic, and thus, disease progression can slow down at its roots, without attacking other properly functioning parts of the body.
The strategy is that adenovirus stealthily penetrates the human immune system, without being detected by white blood cells. In this way, according to the experts who conducted the study, “the cancer cells themselves […] act to kill tumors from the inside out.”
A new approach to cancer therapy
Once the tumor is tricked, it gradually eliminates itself “by producing anticancer agents by its own cells,” says postdoctoral intern Sheena Smith, who led the management approach development. Thus, they can be prevented from spreading through the bloodstream, damaging other healthy tissues and organs.
The scientists involved, produced a drug that produces the same effect on cancerous tumors. Previously tested on a mouse’s breast, this medicine is injected directly. Through 3D visualizations, they were able to appreciate how it acted by generating porosities in tumors, disintegrating it little by little.
This behavior makes this cancer therapy much less invasive for the body. By exclusively destroying tumor cells, the rest of the body does not have to suffer the side effects of chemotherapy or other more aggressive alternatives.