Cancer Treatment Uses Hepatitis Virus-Like Particles

First Posted: Feb 04, 2016 02:10 PM EST

Researchers have developed a new technique that uses the empty shell of a Hepatitis E virus to transport drugs and vaccines in the body. These hepatitis virus-like particles can be applied as a potential cancer treatment, according to the study from the University Of California-Davis. The researchers have tested this technique in rodents as a method to treat breast cancer and it is available for commercial licensing through UC Davis Office of Research.

"Hepatitis E virus is feco-orally transmitted so it can survive passing through the digestive system," according to Marie Stark, coauthor of the study.

The virus-like particles were prepared based on Hepatitis E proteins. However, the particles do not contain any virus DNA, therefore they cannot multiply and spread infections. These types of particles can be applied as vaccines, which are delivered through drink and food, according to the researchers.  

Drinking the vaccine, which is passed through the stomach, enables the virus-like particles to be absorbed in the intestine and deliver vaccines to the body.

The researchers claimed that the particles can be used to attack cancer. This is where the researchers made a few tweaks with the proteins in order for them to stick to cysteine amino acids on the outside. This way they can chemically link other molecules to the cysteine groups. The researchers used a molecule known as LXY-30, which sticks to breast cancer cells. LXY-30 was developed by researchers at UC Davis' Comprehensive Cancer Center.

With the use of a fluorescent marker, the researchers can show that virus-like particles carrying LXY-30 could invade breast cancer cells in a lab dish and even in a mouse model of breast cancer.

The researchers claimed that it is possible one day for cancer patients to drink their medicine, where virus-like particles can transport anticancer drugs to cancer cells.

The findings of this study were published in the journal Nanomedicine.

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