Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cancer Treated As An Infectious Disease -- With Promising Results

Date:
November 2, 2007
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have shown for the first time that cancers can be successfully treated by targeting the viruses that cause them. The findings also raise the possibility of preventing cancer by destroying virus-infected cells before they turn cancerous.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have shown for the first time that cancers can be successfully treated by targeting the viruses that cause them. The findings, published in the October 31 issue of PloS One, also raise the possibility of preventing cancer by destroying virus-infected cells before they turn cancerous.

Related Articles


The Einstein researchers used a technique called radioimmunotherapy, in which radioisotopes are piggybacked onto antibodies. Once these precision-made molecules are injected into the body, the antibodies home in on a specific protein target...and the radioisotope "warhead" destroys the cell to which the protein is attached. In this research the targets were viral antigens: proteins expressed by virus-infected cells that can cause those cells to multiply out of control and become cancerous.

Nearly 20 percent of human cancers worldwide are caused by preexisting virus infections. Prime examples are liver cancer (caused by hepatitis B and C viruses), cervical cancer (caused by human papillomaviruses) and certain lymphomas (caused by the Epstein-Barr virus). But while antigens on the surface of cells are susceptible to attack by antibodies, the viral antigens associated with cancers typically lurk inside infected cells, so scientists had assumed that antibodies couldn't reach them.

"We had a hunch that rapidly growing tumors can "outgrow" their blood supply, resulting in dead tumor cells that might spill their viral antigens amongst the living cancer cells," says Dr. Arturo Casadevall, Forchheimer Professor and Chair of Microbiology & Immunology at Einstein and co-senior author of the study. "So we hoped that by injecting antibodies hitched to isotopes into the blood that they'd be carried deep into the tumor mass and would latch onto these now-exposed antigens. Then the blast of radiation emitted by the radioisotope would destroy the live tumor cells nearby."

Testing their theory in mice, the Einstein researchers attached the radioisotope rhenium-18 to monoclonal antibodies made against E6, a viral antigen expressed by virtually all cervical-cancer cells. Similarly, they prepared radioimmunotherapy for liver cancer by attaching rhenium-18 to monoclonal antibodies against HBx, a viral antigen made by liver-cancer cells. Then, mice bearing human cervical-cancer tumors or human liver tumors were treated with the appropriate therapy.

For both types of cancer, the radioimmunotherapy resulted in significant slowing of tumor growth compared with tumors in untreated mice. For the cervical-cancer mice, the therapy not only stopped the growth of tumors but even caused them to regress.

"Radioimmunotherapy not only worked against these cancers, but in addition the radioactivity was confined entirely to the tumor masses, leaving healthy tissues undamaged,"says Dr. Ekaterina Dadachova, Associate Professor of Nuclear Medicine and of Microbiology & Immunology at Einstein and the study's other senior co-author.

During her seven years at Einstein, Dr. Dadachova has pioneered the use of radioimmunotherapy against infection-related diseases. In a series of animal studies beginning in 2001, she successfully used radioimmunotherapy against the major fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans and against a streptococcal bacterium responsible for pneumonia. Last year, she and her colleagues showed that radioimmunotherapy could help to halt HIV infection by targeting one of several viral proteins displayed on the surface of HIV-infected cells.

"Virus-associated cancers account for some 1.3 million cancer cases each year, so the need for new strategies in treating them is obvious and urgent," says Dr. Dadachova. "Our study has shown in principle that radioimmunotherapy can help in treating cancers caused by viruses--and, just as exciting, the approach also holds promise for cancer prevention. In people chronically infected with hepatitis B or C, human papillomaviruses, or other viruses known to cause cancer, radioimmunotherapy could potentially eliminate virus-infected cells before they're able to transform into cancer cells."

Other scientists involved in the research included first author, Dr. Xing-Guo Wang, a visiting scientist in Dr. Dadachova's lab from China's Hubei University, and Drs. Howard D. Strickler and Robert D. Burk, of Einstein.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, provided funding to support this research. Additional funds were provided by the Albert Einstein Cancer Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Cancer Treated As An Infectious Disease -- With Promising Results." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071030220051.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2007, November 2). Cancer Treated As An Infectious Disease -- With Promising Results. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071030220051.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "Cancer Treated As An Infectious Disease -- With Promising Results." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071030220051.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins