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Contact Information

Carolina Ilkow, PhD
613-737-8899 ext 75208

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Carolina Ilkow

Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Assistant Professor
University of Ottawa

Research Interests

Virus-based therapeutics have re-emerged as promising therapeutic agents for the treatment of cancer as a result of recent clinical success. Recently, several viruses [named oncolytic viruses (OVs)] have been successfully engineered to selectively replicate and kill cancer cells; however, a tumour is more than a collection of malignant cells. The tumour microenvironment also contains cancer-associated fibroblast (CAFs), fat cells, vascular endothelial cells, immune cells and the extracellular matrix that binds them together.   Dr. Ilkow primary research interests focus on the tumour microenvironment as a separate cancer-associated entity that may be targeted by OVs and / or may modulate virotherapy involve dissecting the interplay between different cellular components of the tumour microenvironment and their role in innate and acquired resistance to virus-based therapies.

Brief Biography

Dr. Ilkow research experience has been shaped by her graduate work at the University of Alberta under the supervision of Dr. Tom Hobman, where she identified novel interactions of pathogenic RNA viruses with their host cells. In order to expand her research experience repertoire, as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. John Bell laboratory at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Dr. Ilkow research focused shifted to develop a more comprehensive understanding of how viruses can be used as targeted bio-weapons to treat cancer. These naturally occurring or engineer cancer-fighting viruses are known as oncolytic viruses. Using tumour samples derived from patients with cancer and models of pancreatic and ovarian cancers, Dr. Ilkow demonstrated for the first time that responses of cancer cells to oncolytic virus infection are not exclusively determined by their intrinsic characteristics, but are also controlled by signals derived from the tumour microenvironment. These recent discoveries were recently published in Nature Medicine, and led Dr. Ilkow to win the 2015 Worton Researcher in Training Award. Dr. Ilkow is also firmly committed to the education of new scientists in the areas of virology, tumor biology, and biotherapeutics. Based on her student’s recommendation, Dr. Ilkow was awarded as the 2014 University of Ottawa CO-OP employer of the year.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications:

1- Ilkow CS, M. Marguerie, C. Batenchuk, J. Mayer, D. Ben Neriah, S. Cousineau, T. Falls, V. Jennings, M. Boileau, D. Bellamy, D. Bastin, C. Tanese de Souza, A. Alkayyal, J. Zhang, F. Le Boeuf, R. Arulanandam, P. Sampath, S. Thorne, P. Paramanthan, A. Chatterjee, R.M. Strieter, M. Burdick, C. Addison, D. Stojdl, H. Atkins, R. Auer, J-S Diallo, B. Lichty, and J.C. Bell. “Reciprocal cellular cross-talk within the tumor microenvironment promotes oncolytic virus activity”. Nature Medicine. 2015 May;21(5):530-6.

2- R. Arulanandam, C. Batenchuk, F. A. Angarita, K. Ottolino-Perry, S. Cousineau, A. Mottashed, E. Burgess, T. Falls, N. De Silva, J. Tsang, G. Howe, M-C Bourgeois-Daigneault, D. Conrad, M. Daneshmand, C. Breitbach, D. Kirn, L. Raptis, S. Sad, H. Atkins, M. Huh, J-S Diallo, B. Lichty, C.S. Ilkow, F. Le Boeuf, C. Addison, J. McCart and John C. Bell. “PRD1-BF1 drives VEGF-mediated innate immune suppression in tumor vasculature”. Cancer Cell. 2015 Aug 10;28(2):210-224.

3- Beug ST, Tang VA, LaCasse EC, Cheung HH, Beauregard CE, Brun J, Nuyens JP, Earl N, St-Jean M, Holbrook J, Dastidar H, Mahoney DJ, Ilkow C, Le Boeuf F, Bell JC, Korneluk RG (2014). “Smac mimetics and innate immune stimuli synergize to promote tumor death”. Nature Biotechnology. 2014 Feb;32(2):182-90.

4- Ilkow CS, Swift SL, Bell JC, Diallo JS (2014). “From scourge to cure: tumour-selective viral pathogenesis as a new strategy against cancer”. PLoS Pathogens. 2014 Jan;10(1).

5- Ilkow CS, Goping, IS, and Hobman TC. (2011). “The Rubella virus capsid protein blocks apoptosis by attenuating the pore-forming ability of Bax”. PLoS Pathogens. Feb;7(2).

6- Ilkow, CS, Willow, SD, and Hobman, TC. (2010). “Rubella virus capsid protein: a small protein with big functions”. Future microbiology. 5(4):571-84.

7- *Ilkow, CS, *Weckbecker, D, Cho, WJ, Meier, S, Beatch, MD, Goping, IS, Herrmann, JM, and Hobman, TC. (2010). “The Rubella Virus capsid inhibits import of proteins into mitochondria”. Journal of Virology 84(1):119-30. (* These authors contributed equally to this work).

8- Ilkow, CS, Mancinelli, V, Beatch, MD, and Hobman, TC. (2008) “The Rubella virus capsid protein binds Poly (A) binding protein and inhibits translation”. Journal of Virology 82(9):4284-94.

9- *Law, LMJ, *Ilkow, CS, Tzeng, W-P, Rawluk, M, Stuart, DT, and Hobman, TC. (2006). “Analysis of phosphorylation events in the Rubella virus capsid protein: Roles in early replication”. Journal of Virology 80:6917-6925. (* These authors contributed equally).

Diseases, conditions and populations of interest

Breast cancer; Ovarian cancer; Pancreatic cancer

Research and clinical approaches

Basic research; Gene therapy; Immunotherapy; Molecular and cellular biology; Viral therapy; Viral therapy