Tommy Alain, Scientist – Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (CHEO RI)
Assistant professor – University of Ottawa
Project Title: “Characterization of a New Pharmaco-Viral Approach for the Treatment of Brain Cancer”
Brain tumours, particularly glioblastoma multiforme, have limited therapeutic options. New therapies are needed against this almost universally fatal cancer.
In recent years, scientists have developed approaches that involve the use of common viruses to reactivate the immune system within patients to enable it to recognize and eliminate cancer cells.
In our laboratory, we are testing the ability of the herpes simplex virus (HSV1) to infect various cancer cell types. Recently, we have identified a chemical anti-cancer agent that dramatically enhances the ability of the virus to propagate inside brain cancer cells but not inside normal cells.
In this study, we propose to investigate how this agent works to promote the replication of this virus. Understanding this process we believe will provide valuable insight for the development of HSV1-based anti-cancer therapeutics.
Oncolytic viruses are unique immunotherapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer, but their replication within tumour tissue is limited. We have discovered a novel drug that strongly boost oncolytic virus replication within cancer cells. We proposed to study the mechanism of action of this molecule and how this pharmaco-viral combination could improve murine models of brain cancer. We have found that administering this drug to tumour bearing mice prior to injection with oncolytic viruses resulted in a dramatic increase in viral spread within tumour tissues. We now are studying these processes carefully both in brain cancer cell lines and murine models of glioblastoma.