Cancer Cure
Sample laboratory equipment is displayed for Vice President Joe Biden during a tour of the University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania January 15, 2016. Reuters/Mark Makela

A recent research by UC Davis researchers has revealed that empty shells of Hepatitis E virus can carry drugs or vaccines into the body. The scientists have developed a way by which virus-like particles, based on Hepatitis E proteins, could be used to attack cancer. The technique has been tested in rodents as a way to target breast cancer.

According to the study, Hepatitis E virus can be feco-orally transmitted. Therefore, the virus can pass through the digestive system as is, said Marie Stark, a graduate student working with Professor Holland Cheng in the UC Davis Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.

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The researchers used Hepatitis E proteins to prepare virus-like particles. When passed into the body, these particle do not multiply or spread to cause infections as they do not contain any virus DNA.

These kinds of particles are very much effective in delivering vaccines through food and drink. Thus, when one drinks the vaccines, the virus-like particles pass through the stomach unharmed, get absorbed in the intestine and then deliver the vaccines to the body.

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Stark and Cheng made some changes to the protein so that it could carry sticky cysteine amino acids on the outside of the shells. This would allow the cysteine groups to link chemically with other molecules.

The researchers worked with one such molecule LXY-30. It has been developed by researchers at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. This molecule is known to stick to breast cancer cells.

Using a mouse-model of breast cancer and a laboratory dish, the researchers, using a fluorescent marker, showed how the virus-like particles carrying LXY-30 targets breast cancer cells, writes EurekAlert.

If the research proves effective in humans, there will come a day when cancer patients will simply drink the vaccine and the virus-like particles, carrying cancer cure drugs would start killing the cancer cells.