Now the researchers have found that the myxoma virus
, found in rabbits, can do double duty, quelling the unwanted side effects of a bone marrow transplant and destroying cancer cells, said the study published in the journal Blood.
This built on the massive reductions achieved in the 1950s from the release of the myxoma virus
, which killed more than 85% of Australias rabbit population.
Current early stage melanoma treatments require minor surgery to cut out the cancer cells and healthy skin around a mole but the new research has created a peptide, or a chain of amino acids, that mimics how the proteins of the myxoma virus
interact with melanoma cells.
M11L: a novel mitochondria-localized protein of myxoma virus
that blocks apoptosis of infected leukocytes.
The European rabbit, on the other hand, can be devastated by the myxoma virus
22) An example of this involved the natural selection of rabbits resistant to the virulent myxoma virus
, which was documented during several epidemics deliberately induced to control the Australian rabbit population.
Interfering with ecosystems can have dire consequences for biodiversity, as conservation biologist Diana Bell of the University of East Anglia explained: when the South American myxoma virus
was introduced into Europe in the 1950s to control rabbit populations, it contributed to the collapse of a species-rich ecosystem in which the rabbit was the keystone prey for more than 45 predators.
When the myxoma virus
was deliberately introduced as a control measure in Australia in 1950, rabbit populations were decimated.
McFadden and his colleagues have instead pursued studies of myxoma virus
, a variola relative that infects rabbits.
Since the 1930s, the myxoma virus
had been proposed as a biological control agent, but it had proven ineffective in trials.
These models build on some of the best studied and documented invasion cases like measles, the black death, myxoma virus
in rabbits, and rabies, and show the potential of models to generate a better understanding of the crucial factors controlling the spread of these diseases.