NYU School of Medicine researchers report in a new study that they have isolated a new version of a herpesvirus that kills cancer cells but spares normal tissue.

In animal studies, the new version dramatically reduced the size of human prostate cancer tumors grown in mice. Moreover, it completely eradicated the tumor mass in some of the animals, and it appears not to harm normal tissue.

“We took a crippled virus and essentially made it into a more effective killer of cancer cells,” says Ian Mohr, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Microbiology at NYU School of Medicine, who led the research and is an author of the study. “But we’ve only demonstrated this in mice. Clearly the next step is to see whether this more potent anti-tumor virus works in other animal models.”