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Oncolytic virus enhancement proposed

Monday November 19th, 2018

British researchers have successfully enhanced a cancer-killing virus that is currently under clinical trial, it was announced today.

The project at Oxford University has taken the virus enadenotucirev and added genetic instructions to enable it to target fibroblasts that might shelter cancer cells.

The virus has already been designed to target and destroy cancer cells and is currently under clinical trial for treating ovarian cancer. But the Oxford researchers, backed by the UK Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK, say their enhancements would enable more thorough destruction of disease.

They believe their proposal also tackles the difficulty in treating fibroblasts to prevent them concealing cancer cells from the immune system.

Their genetic changes to the virus enable it to produce a bispecific T-cell engager protein.

The findings are published in Cancer Research today. So far the technique has been developed in human tumour samples.

Researcher Dr Joshua Freedman said: "We hijacked the virus's machinery so the T-cell engager would be made only in infected cancer cells and nowhere else in the body. The T-cell engager molecule is so powerful that it can activate immune cells inside the tumour, which are being supressed by the cancer, to attack the fibroblasts."

Fellow researcher Dr Kerry Fisher said: "Our new technique to simultaneously target the fibroblasts while killing cancer cells with the virus could be an important step towards reducing immune system suppression within carcinomas and should kick-start the normal immune process.

"These viruses are already undergoing trials in people, so we hope our modified virus will be moving towards clinical trials as early as next year to find out if it is safe and effective in people with cancer."

Freedman J et al. Simultaneously targeting cancer and immunosuppressive stromal cells using an oncolytic virus expressing a T-cell engager. Cancer Research 19 November 2018

http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2018/11/15/0008-5472.CAN-18-1750

Tags: Cancer | Flu & Viruses | Genetics | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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