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Modified flu virus that targets and kills cancer cells

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have received a grant from Prostate Cancer UK, as London continues to lead the way in advanced prostate cancer research.

Six separate grants worth over £2.5m have been awarded in London as part of the charity’s Research Innovation Awards scheme which funds forward thinking, ambitious research proposals from across the UK which challenge the status quo.

Dr Gunnel Hallden is leading one of the studies at Queen Mary. It builds on previous work funded by Prostate Cancer UK, which saw Dr Hallden develop a modified type of flu virus that specifically infects and kills cancer cells, leaving non-cancer cells unharmed.

Dr Hallden from Queen Mary University of London, said: “Our first study proved very successful when the virus was injected directly into cancer cells in mice and used alongside standard chemotherapy drugs. However, we wanted to find a way of delivering it via the blood, so it can reach all tumours in the body at once, instead of being injected into just one.

“This has proven difficult in the past, but by ‘packaging’ the virus with special proteins to help protect it as it travels through the blood, we hope the virus 
can survive long enough to reach the tumours. We’ll also modify the virus to give it the ability to alert the patient’s immune system to prostate cancer so the patient’s own body will continue to fight the disease.

“Thanks to Prostate Cancer UK’s grants, we hope we can soon have a new treatment for men with incurable prostate cancer which will improve both the length and quality of their life.”

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Image credit | iStock 

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