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Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant central nervous system tumor of childhood, accounting for about 20 percent of pediatric brain tumors. These tumors are located in the cerebellum, the area of the brain that controls balance and other complex motor functions. Refinements in treatment have increased the 5-year survival to close to 70 percent, but treatment still involves invasive surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Vaccine strains of measles virus have been used to kill tumor cells in a number of tumor types including one type of adult brain tumor. One vaccine strain of measles, the Edmonston strain, targets the cell surface receptor CD46 to gain entry into susceptible cells.
"This preference most likely explains the efficacy of Edmonston strains in killing tumor cells, given the high level of expression of CD46 in multiple tumor types," said Dr. Raffel. "It is also the reason we chose to explore a modified Edmonston's strain of measles virus for use in medulloblastoma."