Washington D.C .: A team of scientists uses the foot-and-mouth disease virus to fight cancer with the worst survival rate – pancreatic cancer.
The research team at Queen Mary University in London identified a peptide or protein fragment that was taken from the foot and mouth disease virus that targets another protein called AvB6 (Alpha-V-Beta-6). This protein is found in high concentrations on the surface of most pancreatic cancer cells.
The study was published in Theranostics. Working with Spirogen and ADC Therapeutics, the team used the peptide to deliver a potent drug called tesirine to pancreatic cancer cells.
When mice with pancreatic cancer tumors were treated with the drug and peptide combination, the tumors were completely killed.
"The foot and mouth disease virus uses AvB6 as a route of infection for cattle because the virus binds to this protein on a cow's tongue. By testing protein fragments in the virus that binds to AvB6, we have developed a way to use a drug specifically against pancreatic cancer, "said John Marshall, senior research professor at the Barts Center at Cancer Research UK.
The team performed tests on the peptide / tesirin combination in both cells in the laboratory and in mice. Mice with AvB6-positive tumors were given a tiny dose of the peptide-drug combination three times a week, which completely stopped the growth of the tumors. However, when the dose was increased and administered only twice a week, all tumors in AvB6 positive mice were completely sacrificed.
As a result of the experiment, the scientists were thrilled to offer a completely new type of treatment for pancreatic cancer. Professor Marshall said: "One advantage of targeting AvB6 is that it is very specific for cancer, since most normal human tissues contain little or nothing of this protein, so we hope we can use it to treat it effectively Pancreatic cancer could have limited side effects. "
The team is now planning to further test the peptide and drug combination in more complex mouse models to determine if it can affect pancreatic cancer metastases before clinical trials are conducted.