Viruses and drugs combine to form potent anti-cancer therapy

April 22, 2015

Dr. Jean-Simon Diallo and his colleagues have discovered that compounds that disrupt our cells’ inner skeleton (called microtubule-destabilizing agents) can greatly enhance oncolytic virus cancer therapy in mouse and cell culture models. As described in Nature Communications, it appears that our cells’ inner skeleton plays a crucial role in making an anti-viral protein called interferon, so disrupting this skeleton also reduces the anti-viral defences of the cells. The combination therapy also seems to increase “bystander” killing of uninfected cancer cells without harming normal cells.

Microtubule-destabilizing agents have been used to treat cancer for many years and oncolytic viruses are currently being tested in clinical trials, so it would be feasible to test these therapies together in a clinical trial in the near future.

Dr. Diallo and his colleagues were also recently granted a U.S. patent for several drugs that enhance oncolytic virus therapy.

Co-authors: Rozanne Arulanandam, Cory Batenchuk, Oliver Varette, Chadi Zakaria, Vanessa Garcia, Nicole E. Forbes, Colin Davis, Ramya Krishnan, Raunak Karmacharya, Julie Cox, Anisha Sinha, Andrew Babawy, Katherine Waite, Erica Weinstein, Theresa Falls, Andrew Chen, Jeff Hamill, Naomi De Silva, David P. Conrad, Harold Atkins, Kenneth Garson, Carolina Ilkow, Mads Kærn, Barbara Vanderhyden, Nahum Sonenberg, Tommy Alain, Fabrice Le Boeuf, John C. Bell.

Funders: Terry Fox Research Institute, Cancer Research Society, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.

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