Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have successfully tested a virus which targets only brain cancer cells in mice. The researchers implanted cancer cells into mice brains and then injected the mice with the virus. While the virus’s progress in the mice was tracked in real-time using florescent “markers,” the virus attacked and destroyed the brain tumors without affecting non-tumorous tissue. The original paper can be found in The Journal of Neuroscience.
I’ve read several papers recently where a virus has been used to selectively target and destroy tumor cells. I don’t know of a general surface protein or receptor that is common to all tumors; if there indeed isn’t one, then these viruses will have to be engineered to be specific for a particular type of cancer rather than having just one virus that would eradicate all cancer. It’s going to be an exciting next couple years in cancer research and treatment.