2013 Researcher Dr. Aru Narendran

A Virus to Kill by: Double-deleted Vaccinia virus (VVdd) as a novel therapeutic agent for a defiant pediatric brain tumour

Dr Aru Narendran
University of Calgary, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, AB
Award: $25,000

Dr. Narandran's project is funded through the generosity of the Pink Warrior Foundation, Saskatoon, SK


Project Summary:

Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumour of the central nervous system (CNS AT/RT) is a highly malignant brain tumour of infancy that often causes death within months. In spite of multiple treatment regimens consisting of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, with or without stem cell transplant, only a few long-term survivors of CNS AT/RT have been reported.

Hence, research is urgently needed to identify effective new agents and novel therapeutic approaches for these children. Recent studies have shown evidence for the use of oncolytic viruses (OVs) as a means to deliver effective cytotoxic therapy to tumors that have become resistant to conventional treatment approaches.

The idea behind this approach is to develop viruses that can replicate and cause the cancer cells to break down while leaving non-malignant cells unaffected. Vaccinia virus (VV) is a type of OV with several desirable attributes to be selected as a therapeutic agent, including a highly acceptable safety profile from its use as a vaccine in the small pox eradication program and its ability to positively alter specific immune responses. Based on our encouraging preliminary data, we propose to investigate the potential of a modified (double deleted) vaccinia virus in preclinical studies for the treatment of AT/RT.

Read more about Dr. Narendran in this story ...

“Your child has a brain tumour.” – Six shocking words no parent should ever have to hear, and the impact of which can be devastating. For Calgary researcher Dr. Aru Narendran, knowing first-hand what the brain tumour journey can mean for families motivates him to spend his days in a lab. There he and his team search for a cure for one of the most fatal types of malignant pediatric brain tumour, atypical teratoid/rhabdoid (AT/RT). Absolute in his determination to eradicate childhood cancers, Dr. Narendran has a few choice words of his own for the illness. “I don’t see a reason why we can’t cure every single kid with cancer. We cured polio and other diseases completely, so it’s just a matter of time. It will happen.” Read the rest of this story...

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