A naturally-occurring virus has been discovered, which successfully kills breast cancer cells in Dr. Craig Meyers’ laboratory at the Penn State College of Medicine. “It appears that this virus is signaling the cells to turn on themselves and basically commit suicide,” Dr. Meyers says. “And this virus is inducing it only in the cancer cells, but not in the normal cells.”
In 2007, the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) provided Dr. Meyers’ team with $35,000 dollars in seed money. “We were ecstatic to know that money was put to such good use, and at the same time, to know that we had a hand in it,” says Kevin Smith with the PBCC. At this week’s 2011 PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference, Dr. Meyers was presented with a new, $100,000 dollar grant to help continue his research. Smith calls it the largest single contribution in the PBCC’s 18-year history.
The adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) is yielding promising results, but it is not yet to the stage of being tested on humans. “So far in mice, our results in mice are looking really good,” says Dr. Meyers. “The tumors we’ve made in mice are really just dissolving when we put this virus in.” Meyers knows there’s much additional research to be done, but the early results are so promising that he says they can’t move fast enough.
Smith says it’s amazing to have this kind of research underway in the Keystone State. He says it shows that research dollars do matter. “Even with the economy the way it is, we need to continue the research, because that is how we are going to find a cure.” October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.