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Virotherapy to Treat Mesothelioma

Virotherapy is the idea of using biotechnology to isolate and reprogram viruses to infect and attack cancerous cells. Recently it was announced that mesothelioma is a serious candidate for virotherapy research with scientists claiming to have created a possible virotherapy agent to treat the disease.

In the middle of the 20th century doctors occasionally noticed that some cancer patients who had recent vaccinations or non-related viral infections showed signs of improvement. The idea was largely dismissed based on patient psychological and physiological factors.

In 1956 serious studies were undertaken to evaluate the possible use of oncolytic viruses to target cancer but further research was delayed due to inadequate technology.

It wasn't until just recently that virotherapy re-entered serious research as technology and expertise required became available.

Virotherapy relies on finding or synthesizing a Tumor Specific Promoter (TSP) for a specific cancer. After detailed analysis of a patient's cancer, a TSP can be produced that will then be inserted into viruses.

The virus is then injected into the human body and will bypass healthy cells and infect (and subsequently kill) only those specific cancerous cells that it has been programmed to attack. Once inside the cell, the TSP will stop cell growth and allow the virus to reproduce and spread to other cancerous cells.

Recently a project undertaken at the University of Alabama-Birmingham isolated a possible TSP (Survivin) for mesothelioma and scientists announced the creation of a possible test virus.

Scientist's primary target is to develop viruses to attack the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which causes AIDS and is responsible for a global pandemic. Virotherapy is also being studied as a possible treatment for ovarian cancer and glioma (brain tumors).