Show Details

Cold Viruses vs. Cancer

December 24, 2012

Scientists hope to design viruses that fight cancer.



Viruses vs. cancer.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Cold and flu season is upon us, and it’s easy to malign the viruses that make our lives miserable. But they’re not all bad. Researchers at the Salk Institute in California have discovered that adenoviruses, the same viruses responsible for the common cold, may be useful in the fight against cancer. Molecular biologist Clodagh O’Shea explains.

CLODAGH O’SHEA (Salk Institute for Biological Studies):

A virus will take over the cell and it forces the cell to replicate uncontrollably. And in many ways that’s exactly what happens in cancer, where mutations take over the cell forcing the cell to become cancerous, which is an uncontrolled proliferating cell.


Her team is working on harnessing these similarities to beat cancer cells at their own game. Ultimately, they hope to design modified adenoviruses which use their cancer-like properties to attack tumor cells, while leaving healthy tissue intact. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Salk researchers discovered that a small protein produced by cold viruses disables large cellular machines involved in growth, replication and cancer. These proteins accomplish this by forming a three-dimensional web inside a cell's nucleus (yellow) that traps these components. The findings point the way to new ways to target and destroy tumors. (Salk Institute for Biological Studies)