new weapon to fight cancer
1. British scientists are preparing to launch trials of a radical new way to
fight cancer, which kills tumours by infecting them with viruses like the common
2. If successful, virus therapy could eventually form a third pillar
alongside radiotherapy and chemotherapy in the standard arsenal against cancer,
while avoiding some of the debilitating side-effects.
3. Leonard Seymour, a professor of gene therapy at Oxford University, who has
been working on the virus therapy with colleagues in London and the US, will
lead the trials later this year. Cancer Research UK said yesterday that it was
excited by the potential of Prof Seymour’s pioneering techniques.
4. One of the country’s leading geneticists, Prof Seymour has been working
with viruses that kill cancer cells directly, while avoiding harm to healthy
tissue. "In principle, you’ve got something which could be many times more
effective than regular chemotherapy," he said.
5. Cancer-killing viruses exploit the fact that cancer cells suppress the
body’s local immune system. "If a cancer doesn’t do that, the immune system
wipes it out. If you can get a virus into a tumour, viruses find them a very
good place to be because there’s no immune system to stop them replicating. You
can regard it as the cancer’s Achilles’ heel."
6. Only a small amount of the virus needs to get to the cancer. "They
replicate, you get a million copies in each cell and the cell bursts and they
infect the tumour cells adjacent and repeat the process," said Prof Seymour.
7. Preliminary research on mice shows that the viruses work well on tumours
resistant to standard cancer drugs. "It’s an interesting possibility that they
may have an advantage in killing drug-resistant tumours, which could be quite
different to anything we’ve had before."
8. Researchers have known for some time that viruses can kill tumour cells
and some aspects of the work have already been published in scientific journals.
American scientists have previously injected viruses directly into tumours but
this technique will not work if the cancer is inaccessible or has spread
throughout the body.
9. Prof Seymour’s innovative solution is to mask the virus from the body’s
immune system, effectively allowing the viruses to do what chemotherapy drugs do
- spread through the blood and reach tumours wherever they are. The big hurdle
has always been to find a way to deliver viruses to tumours via the bloodstream
without the body’s immune system destroying them on the way.
10. "What we’ve done is make chemical modifications to the virus to put a
polymer coat around it - it’s a stealth virus when you inject it," he said.
11. After the stealth virus infects the tumour, it replicates, but the copies
do not have the chemical modifications. If they escape from the tumour, the
copies will be quickly recognised and mopped up by the body’s immune system.
12. The therapy would be especially useful for secondary cancers, called
metastases, which sometimes spread around the body after the first tumour
appears. "There’s an awful statistic of patients in the west ... with malignant
cancers; 75% of them go on to die from metastases," said Prof Seymour.
13. Two viruses are likely to be examined in the first clinical trials:
adenovirus, which normally causes a cold-like illness, and vaccinia, which
causes cowpox and is also used in the vaccine against smallpox. For safety
reasons, both will be disabled to make them less pathogenic in the trial, but
Prof Seymour said he eventually hopes to use natural viruses.
14. The first trials will use uncoated adenovirus and vaccinia and will be
delivered locally to liver tumours, in order to establish whether the treatment
is safe in humans and what dose of virus will be needed. Several more years of
trials will be needed, eventually also on the polymer-coated viruses, before the
therapy can be considered for use in the NHS. Though the approach will be
examined at first for cancers that do not respond to conventional treatments,
Prof Seymour hopes that one day it might be applied to all cancers.
Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading
passage? For questions 1-6 write
TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this in the passage
1.Virus therapy, if successful, has an advantage in eliminating
2.Cancer Research UK is quite hopeful about Professor Seymour’s work on the
3.Virus can kill cancer cells and stop them from growing again.
4.Cancer’s Achilles’ heel refers to the fact that virus may stay safely in a
tumor and replicate.
5.To infect the cancer cells, a good deal of viruses should be injected into
6.Researches on animals indicate that virus could be used as a new way to
treat drug-resistant tumors.
Based on the reading passage, choose the appropriate letter from A-D for each
7.Information about researches on viruses killing tumor cells can be
(A) on TV
(B) in magazines
(C) on internet
(D) in newspapers
8.To treat tumors spreading out in body, researchers try to
(A) change the body’ immune system
(B) inject chemotherapy drugs into bloodstream.
(C) increase the amount of injection
(D) disguise the viruses on the way to tumors.
9.When the chemical modified virus in tumor replicates, the copies
(A) will soon escape from the tumor and spread out.
(B) will be wiped out by the body’s immune system.
(C) will be immediately recognized by the researchers.
(D) will eventually stop the tumor from spreading out.
Complete the sentences below. Choose your answers from the list of words. You
can only use each word once.
NB There are more words in the list than spaces so you will not use them
In the first clinical trials, scientists will try to ……10…… adenovirus and
vaccinia, so both the viruses will be less pathogenic than the ……11…….These
uncoated viruses will be applied directly to certain areas to confirm safety on
human beings and the right ……12…… needed. The experiments will firstly be
……13……to the treatment of certain cancers