• By Dana Sparks

Science Saturday: An anti-cancer idea goes viral

August 17, 2019

Many viruses are drawn to cancer like iron filings to a magnet. Why not put these viruses to use — finding, infecting and killing cancer cells?

Image of measles virus (green) infecting cells (nuclei stained blue).
Picture courtesy of Brajesh Singh, Ph.D., at the Sinn Lab, University of Iowa.

“It’s an extremely appealing concept,” says Mayo Clinic hematologist Stephen Russell, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Russell heard the siren call of “oncolytic virotherapy” — fighting cancer with viruses — early in his medical career. He has pursued a “one-shot cancer cure” at Mayo Clinic, where he started the Department of Molecular Medicine, built an oncolytic virotherapy program and developed the manufacture of oncolytic viruses.

“I decided this is what I’m going to do. There wasn’t ever and there still isn’t any doubt,” he says. “I know it’s hard and I know there are always, always, always barriers coming at you. But that I love. Life is a problem-solving exercise. I feel extremely fortunate to have this overarching goal that drives me.”

And in this case, it drove all the way to a potential treatment for multiple types of cancer.

Read the rest of the article on the Discovery's Edge blog.
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