Canadian physicians created a special mathematical model predicting the success of “therapy” viruses struggling with cancer cells. This allowed the experts to create multiple “killer” strains that effectively destroy adenocarcinoma, kidney cancer cells.
The chief authors of the article, John Bell and Mads Cairn from the University of Ottawa report that oncolytic viruses tend to attack only certain types of cancer cells. At the same time, cells of the same tumor can vary greatly, which significantly reduces the effects of the virus. They were able to accelerate their development by means of a mathematical model predicting the effect of mutations in the virus on its ability to infect cancer cells.
Together with colleagues, Bell and Cairn tried to create a virus that can kill adenocarcinoma cells. The main problem of such viruses, according to the scientists, is the volatility of cancer cells, which frequently mutate and change their shell structure, not allowing the “killer” to distinguish them from healthy unaffected tissue. It can lead to dangerous and unintended consequences, like destroying a healthy part of the organ.
In an effort to solve this problem, the authors have developed a specific mathematical model, making a list of genetic differences between healthy and cancerous cells, and identified a number of features, the most “noticeable” for viruses. Biologists then combined the data and got the desired model capable of predicting the effect of mutations in the virus genome on the type of cells it infects.
According to the researchers, they were able to identify the most promising “versions” of the virus and tested them on mice, instead of spending time on trial and error. This methodology is applicable for creating a number of other viral “killers” that will destroy other types of cancer cells.