Viruses and bacteria join forces against cancer

March 11, 2014

Dr. John Bell and his colleagues in Ottawa and Ireland have developed a unique approach to enhance the effectiveness of cancer-fighting (oncolytic) viruses. While many cancers are susceptible to these viruses (because of genetic mutations in antiviral pathways), some remain resistant. Now, Dr. Bell and his colleagues have developed a strain of bacteria that can selectively replicate inside tumours and reduce any remaining antiviral defences, thereby allowing better viral replication and tumour-killing. Cancer-bearing mice treated intravenously with the bacterial therapy, followed by the viral therapy, survived much longer and had slower tumour growth compared with mice treated with either therapy alone. Published in Molecular Therapy, this research provides the first demonstration that viruses and bacteria can be rationally combined to target cancer.

Funders: The Irish Cancer Society, the Cork Cancer Research Centre and the Irish Health Research Board.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the university’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. OHRI includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

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