Rabbit virus improves bone marrow transplants, kills some cancer cells

Lyra Nara Blog

University of Florida Health researchers have discovered that a rabbit virus can deliver a one-two punch, killing some kinds of cancer cells while eliminating a common and dangerous complication of bone marrow transplants.

For patients with blood cancers such as leukemia and multiple myeloma, a bone marrow transplant can be both curative and perilous. It replenishes marrow lost to disease or chemotherapy but raises the risk that newly transplanted white blood cells will attack the recipient’s body.

Now researchers say the myxoma virus, found in rabbits, can do double duty, quelling the unwanted side effects of a bone marrow transplant and destroying cancer cells.

The virus could be especially helpful to patients who have recurring cancer but cannot find a suitable bone marrow donor, said Christopher R. Cogle, M.D., the study’s lead investigator and an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s division of hematology and oncology…

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