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Key DiscoveryViruses and Bee Venom: A New Strategy for Cancer Treatment

Jan 16, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of cancer research, oncolytic virotherapy – using viruses to specifically target and kill cancer cells – could be a breakthrough therapeutic strategy for certain cancers.

HLI Principal Investigator and UBC Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Dr. Honglin Luo, and her research team have combined the anti-cancer properties of CVB3, a tumour-killing virus, with melittin, a molecule in bee venom known to damage cancerous cells, as well as an immune activator to create a potent combination therapy for breast cancer and melanoma. CVB3 was first modified to increase its safety profile, making it less likely to destroy non-tumour cells.

“We showed that the combination therapy led to a significant anti-tumour synergy, as evidenced by a substantial inhibition of tumour growth and improved survival rates compared with individual treatment in both breast cancer and melanoma mouse models. This exciting breakthrough holds promise for advancing more effective cancer therapies, emphasizing our shared dedication to overcoming this complex challenge” – Amirhossein Bahreyni, Graduate Student in Dr. Luo’s lab

In addition to directly killing tumour cells, the combination therapy can also promote anti-tumour immunity; that is, the treatment can enhance the host’s immune system in its ability to clear cancer cells, further amplifying anti-cancer effects. In this study, the team showed that this enhanced anti-tumour immunity was able to suppress the growth of a distant tumour.

“Our study shows a new, promising combination therapy that is safe and effective. Our next step is to develop an effective delivery system to integrate all therapeutic agents, evading host immune surveillance and optimizing specific tumour targeting. This marks a crucial step toward translating this promising approach into a practical and transformative cancer treatment” – Dr. Luo

Read the full paper published in BMC Medicine: