(Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center) Scientists have used a genetically re-engineered herpes virus that selectively hunts down and infects cancerous tumors and then delivers genetic material that prompts cancers to secrete a biomarker and reveal their presence. According to a study appearing May 11 in PLoS (Public Library of Science) ONE, the novel technology has the potential to vastly improve cancer diagnosis by allowing the disease to be caught at much earlier stages and to monitor the effectiveness of therapy.
"The researchers engineered a herpes simplex virus mutant they called rQ-M38G, reprogramming its genetic makeup so it bypasses healthy tissues and instead targets rapidly dividing cancer cells for infection. They also genetically armed the virus so it prompts cancer cells to secrete Gaussia luciferase (GLuc)."
"GLuc is a luminescent, easily detectable protein the researchers used as a universal blood biomarker for cancer cells infected by rQ-M38G. Because rQ-M38G/GLuc might also help shrink cancer, it is part of a new class of agents dubbed "theragnostics" that can simultaneously be used for diagnosis and therapy, Dr. Cripe said."