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Scientists have equipped a virus that kills carcinoma cells with a protein so it can also target and kill adjacent cells that are tricked into shielding the cancer from the immune system.

It is the first time that cancer-associated fibroblasts within solid tumours – healthy cells that are tricked into protecting the cancer from the immune system and supplying it with growth factors and nutrients – have been specifically targeted in this way.

The researchers, who were primarily funded by the MRC and Cancer Research UK, say that if further safety testing is successful, the dual-action virus – which they have tested in human cancer samples and in mice – could be tested in humans with carcinomas as early as next year.

Find out more (University of Oxford website)

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