Updated on 20 May 2014
Stem cells loaded with virus encapsulated in the gel helps the virus stay longer and kill the tumor
Singapore: Cancer patients can now heave a sigh of relief with the new, quantum leap innovation in cancer treatment. Harvard scientists discovered that combination of cancer killing herpes virus and stem cells can be targeted to killing brain tumors.
Under the guidance of Mr Khalid Shah, HSCI Principal Faculty member, the Harvard scientists found that when virus loaded stem cells were trapped in a gel and applied to tumors, there was a significant improvement in the survival of mice that had glioblastoma multiforme, the most common brain tumor in human adults and also the most difficult to treat.
In their innovative approach, Mr Shah and his team used Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC),that were effective drug delivery vehicles as trigger a minimal immune response and can be utilised to carry oncolytic viruses. These stem cells help the virus to stay at the tumor site for long enough to act thus overcoming the challenges faced by other scientists in the same area of research.
"As an estimate around 70-75 percent of glioblastoma patients undergo surgery for tumor debulking this mouse model is shown to mimic debulking," said Shah. "MSCs loaded with herpes virus, encapsulated in a biocompatible gel, increased the virus survival in mice as they did not get washed off by the cerebrospinal fluid," observed Mr Shah.