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Health Line

Canadian researchers have said that they had made a potentially significant breakthrough in the fight against cancer by discovering that injecting them with a rare virus could kill tumour cells.Dr. John Bell of the University of Ottawa said his team had found many common cancers were destroyed by the Vesicular Stomatits Virus (VSV), which is not infectious in humans. "We’re excited .Wethink this is an important step forward," he told Reuters in an interview .In laboratory tests, the new treatment killed cells from melanomas and leukemia as well as lung, breast and prostate cancers.

Mr. Bell said 15 years of research into tumours had shown that many cancer cells suffered from a genetic flaw that made them vulnerable to VSV, which has been under study for the last 50 years or so.

"Knowing what this (geneic) defect was and knowing the properties of the virus, we thought this would be a good fit. So we then tested the virus and sure enough it was very effective," said Mr.Bell.

More tests will now be carried out on laboratory animals and if all goes well the first clinical trials on human beings could start in about 18 months.

Cancer is the second biggest killer in most developed countries after heart disease. In 1997, the World Health Organisation said 10 million people were diagnosed a year with the disease and six million died.

(As reported in The Hindu Business Lines)

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