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ASU using a virus to kill cancer

It's a big discovery that may treat cancer in the future.
Credit: ASU

TEMPE, Ariz. — ASU researchers have developed a way to "teach" a virus to attack cancer cells, in what may be a future cure for some types of cancer.

"Viruses get a bad rap," ASU virologist Grant McFadden said. "The vast majority of viruses are harmless."

McFadden has been studying a virus called myxoma, which only exists in rabbits. But instead of attacking rabbit cells, McFadden's virus attacks cancer.

"It finds them, infects them and kills them," McFadden said. 

In one test, McFadden's virus wiped out cancer in 100 percent of mice. But it's still early in the process. The next step is identifying which cancers the treatment works best for, and proceeding to human trials.

To do that, ASU created a company called Oncomyx, which is gathering funding to turn McFadden's science into an actual treatment. 

"The next part now is, how can we turn this into a product that can really help people?" Oncomyx co-founder Steve Potts said. 

Potts said Oncomyx is probably two years away from any sort of human trials.