A research paper published in PNAS by Dr Mihnea Bostina and colleagues uses electron microscopy to demonstrate how an anti-cancer virus interacts with tumour cells, increasing the potential for clinical use of the virus.
Seneca Valley Virus (SVV), a newly discovered virus which infects cancer cells but not normal tissue, has become a main research project in the laboratory of Dr Mihnea Bostina, Academic Director of Otago’s OMNI Electron Microscopy unit and senior lecturer in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
Working with researchers from Japan’s Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, the group used cryo-electron microscopy to capture thousands of images of the virus bound to its receptor, using them to reconstruct a high resolution structure of the complex.
The structure demonstrates how SVV discriminates between its preferred receptor (cancer cells) and other similar proteins (healthy tissue).
“We can see exactly how the virus breaks into the cancer cells, while leaving other cells untouched,” Dr Bostina says.