Harnessing viruses against brain tumours
Oncolytic viruses are good candidates for investigating new treatments as they preferentially replicate in, and kill cancerous cells. Such viruses target and ‘invade’ tumour cells, multiplying inside the invaded cell until it bursts and is destroyed. They can also be primed with anti-cancer drugs to boost their destructive potential as they home in on tumour cells.
Researchers at the Leeds ECMC are investigating whether these cancer-killing or ‘oncolytic’ viruses can reach tumours in the brain even if they are injected into the bloodstream elsewhere. If they can breach the blood/brain barrier, it would represent a significant advance in treating tumours that are notoriously hard to reach.
The early phase trial of Reolysin ® in brain tumour patients led by Dr Adel Jebar and the team at the Leeds ECMC has demonstrated that this oncolytic virus can indeed pass the blood-brain barrier which shows potential to effectively deliver treatment to difficult-to-reach glioblastomas.
In two trials using administration of the oncolytic virus directly to the tumour in gliomas and recurrent brain tumours, treatment has been well tolerated, with early signs of efficacy.
This study is funded by the Brain Tumour Charity. Watch Professor Susan Short talk to their team about the study in this video.
Jebar, A. et. al. Neuro Oncol (2014) 16 (suppl 6): vi3. doi: 10.1093/neuonc/nou249.11