New research conducted by a team of scientists at the Penn State College of Medicine may reveal a potent treatment against breast cancer. According to the study, the "cure" is actually a virus.
Known as adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2), the naturally occurring virus is present in as many as 80 percent of all humans, but is not harmful. It's potential for being used as a target against cancer came in 2005 when researchers, also at Penn State, observed it killing cervical cancer cells. Additionally, where the virus was present alongside the human papillomavirus (HPV) in women—a known link to cervical cancer—rates of contracting cervical cancer were actually lower, according to the researchers.
The new research saw breast cancer cells eradicated "within seven days" and was effective at multiple stages of the diseases progression, offering late-stage sufferers the potential for less harsh treatments commonly used in advanced cases of cancer. Penn State researcher, Samina Alam, stated, “If we can determine which viral genes are being used, we may be able to introduce those genes into a [therapy]." Adding that the research may allow the scientists to determine the pathways triggered by the virus, which could lead to better drugs more accurately aimed at those same pathways, "or we may simply be able to use the virus itself.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the number one cancer affecting more than 230,000 women in the U.S. each year and second only to lung cancer in number of deaths, with an estimated 40,000 women who will lose the battle against breast cancer this year.
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