Scientists have harnessed the killing power of a debilitating virus to slay
even more deadly foes–malignant brain tumors. In research on mice, Mattias M. Gromeier and his colleagues altered a live poliovirus, inducing it to attack and eliminate tumor cells in the animals' brains.
The modification changes the virus just enough so that it can't cause polio. "We are not trying to coerce the virus into doing something it is not fit or designed to do, but rather exploit the natural ability of this remarkable pathogen to target and destroy certain cell types," says Gromeier, a microbiologist at Duke University in Durham, N.C. He presented the research results in Orlando, Fla., this week at the meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.