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Researchers targeting colorectal cancer stem cells – the root cause of disease, resistance to treatment and relapse – have discovered a mechanism to mimic a virus and potentially trigger an immune response to fight the cancer like an infection.
The discovery, published online today in
Cell, illuminates a major shift in understanding anti-tumour mechanisms and identifies a promising druggable target against colorectal cancer stem cells, says principal investigator and lead author Dr. Daniel De Carvalho, a scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network. He is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine at University of Toronto.
"By mimicking a virus, the potential is to trick the immune system into 'seeing' the cancer cells as an infection that needs to be destroyed," says Dr. De Carvalho. "Our work demonstrates that viral mimicry is a viable anti-tumour strategy." Currently, colorectal 'cancer recurs in about 50 per cent of patients and is among the top three leading causes of cancer-related deaths.
Read the full press release