Canadian scientists are refining the use of cutting-edge anti-cancer therapies that engineer viruses to selectively target and kill tumor cells.
So-called “oncolytic viruses” are being hailed as an exciting new way to treat cancer because healthy cells are spared and side effects – common in chemotherapy, radiation and surgery – are reduced.
Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute is testing a specially engineered virus given in combination with a novel type of drug to help the virus overcome built-in cancer defense mechanisms that make tumors difficult to kill. SPECIAL: This Small Group of Doctors are Quietly Curing Cancer — Read More.
Dr. Robert Korneluk of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario is researching new ways to see if those cancer defense mechanisms can be turned against tumors – effectively inducing a kind of cancer cell suicide. Korneluk’s research is tracking the effectiveness of a group of experimental drugs that are highly effective in killing cancer cells, particularly in the presence of a specific compound produced both by the immune system and by cancer cells.
The two researchers are among 15 Ontario scientists leading the new effort to engineer viruses to treat cancer – a $5.4 million venture, including 28 grants, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society.