Dr. Aru Narendran, University of Calgary, Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary, AB
A Virus to Kill by: Double-deleted Vaccinia virus (VVdd) as a novel therapeutic agent for a defiant pediatric brain tumour
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 tumours 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 smallpox 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.
“We have to have hope, and we should not accept anything less than a 100 per cent cure. Ninety-nine per cent is never enough, because what if that one person was your loved one?”