Common virus may kill prostate cancer cells

July 8, 2005

A common virus known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) appears to kill multiple types of cancer cells, including prostate cancer cells, in laboratory cultures yet has no effect on healthy cells, suggesting its potential to be developed as an anti-cancer agent, according to researchers from Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA.

A common virus known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) appears to kill multiple types of cancer cells, including prostate cancer cells, in laboratory cultures yet has no effect on healthy cells, suggesting its potential to be developed as an anti-cancer agent, according to researchers from Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, PA.

"Even without co-mingling with another virus, AAV2 seems to be able to infect and express itself in other types of cancer cells, also disrupting their ability to survive and inducing cell death," said Craig Meyers, PhD, whose research team presented study findings at the American Society for Virology annual meeting last month.

It appears that AAV2 is able to recognize cells that have undergone deregulation (meaning cancer cells are no longer communicating like normal, healthy cells), infect them, express its own genes, which disrupt the host cell's life cycle and kill it.

Although AAV2 is similar in design and effectiveness to some gene therapies, the Penn State researchers did not modify AAV2 but left it in its natural form. Thus, it would not be classified as a gene therapy.

Future research will investigate the precise mechanisms through which AAV2 causes cancer cell death and how the virus might be enhanced, the researchers said.