Simple flu virus used by Queen Mary University researchers to kill pancreatic cancer cells

PUBLISHED: 12:07 13 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:32 13 February 2018

Medical research lab tests at Whitechapel. Picture: Mike Brooke

Medical research lab tests at Whitechapel. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A common little flu virus could be the key to stop the spread of deadly pancreatic cancer after being lab-tested by medical researchers at Whitechapel.

'Engineered' flu virus injected into bloodstream to kill off cancer cells in the body. Picture: Mike Brooke 'Engineered' flu virus injected into bloodstream to kill off cancer cells in the body. Picture: Mike Brooke

Results need to be confirmed in human clinical trials, but early findings lean towards a promising new treatment to kill cancer cells combined with chemotherapy, Queen Mary University scientists have revealed.

“The new virus specifically kills pancreatic cancer cells,” Queen Mary’s Dr Stella Man said. “The aggressive cancers can be targeted with a modified version of the common flu virus, causing few side effects in healthy tissue.”

The scientists have also “engineered” the virus to go straight into the bloodstream to hit any cancer cells that have spread throughout the body.

The specific ‘rogue’ molecule called alpha v beta 6 is found on the surface of pancreatic cancer cells—but crucially not on normal cells.

The flu virus was modified with a protein on its outer coat that recognises and binds itself to rogue molecules. The virus enters the cell and replicates itself before bursting out and destroying it.

The virus then binds onto neighbouring cancer cells and repeats the cycle, eventually removing the tumour mass altogether. It is also modified not to cause disease in a healthy body.

Latest East London News Stories

Yesterday, 16:02

Officers from the Met’s roads and transport policing command are appealing for witnesses after a serous collision on the Limehouse Link tunnel this morning.

Yesterday, 15:00

The Limehouse Link tunnel has reopened after a serious collision between a lorry and a moped this morning.

Yesterday, 13:27

A man has been charged in connection with a rape in Shoreditch on Saturday.

Yesterday, 12:55

Two drug dealers who took over a vulnerable woman’s home to sell heroin and crack cocaine have been jailed for two and a half years.

Yesterday, 10:19

Bethnal Green Library is being upgraded with a start-up workspace and gallery.

Thu, 18:04

The Royal London Hospital have opened two dementia friendly tea rooms and two garden rooms to help patients with recovery.

Thu, 17:00

The chief executive of a secular pressure group has backed under-fire inner north London senior coroner Mary Hassell, saying “religion shouldn’t be a trump card.”

Thu, 16:55

People who have gone through mental illness are telling their story at a Whitechapel employment event about their “journey back into work”.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Show Job Lists


Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now