Modified cold virus kills cancer cells

In collaboration with the Press Association

The cold virus could be exploited to treat cancer, researchers from Birmingham University have said. The team told the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Conference in Birmingham that they have developed a genetically modified cold virus that produces a human protein called CD40L CD40L is the natural partner of another protein called CD40 - when the two proteins stick to each other they cause a reaction that can result in cell death. CD40 is present in a number of common tumours, including breast, skin and liver cancers.

In addition, using a modified cold virus to transmit the protein can also spark an immune response from the body, creating a two-pronged attack.

Dr Daniel Palmer, who worked on the study, said there were a number of benefits to this approach: "Firstly, focusing on CD40, which is expressed on cancer cells, allows any therapy to be targeted at tumours.

"Secondly it seems that targeting CD40 has a double benefit by both killing cells and activating the body's immune system.

"This would help reduce the toxic side effects associated with chemotherapy and possible tackle microscopic secondary tumours," he added. The team is now looking at preparing the technique for clinical trials and also potentially widening its application and examining its impact on liver and skin cancers.