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Carolina Ilkow, PhD
613-737-8899 ext 75208

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Carolina Ilkow

Senior Scientist, Cancer Therapeutics Program
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology
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

1. Jennings VA, Ilkow CS. Generation and Quantification of Cytotoxic Lymphocytes Following Oncolytic Virus Infection of Multi-cellular Tumor Spheroids. Methods Mol Biol. 2023;2614:139-149.

2. Whelan JT, Singaravelu R, Wang F, Pelin A, Tamming LA, Pugliese G, Martin NT, Crupi MJF, Petryk J, Austin B, He X, Marius R, Duong J, Jones C, Fekete EEF, Alluqmani N, Chen A, Boulton S, Huh MS, Tang MY, Taha Z, Scut E, Diallo JS, Azad T, Lichty BD, Ilkow CS, Bell JC. CRISPR-mediated rapid arming of poxvirus vectors enables facile generation of the novel immunotherapeutic STINGPOX. Front Immunol. 2023 Jan 13;13:1050250.

3. Moulin C, Crupi MJF, Ilkow CS, Bell JC, Boulton S. Extracellular Vesicles and Viruses: Two Intertwined Entities. Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Jan 5;24(2):1036.

4. Lalu MM, Presseau J, Foster MK, Hunniford VT, Cobey KD, Brehaut JC, Ilkow CS, Montroy J,Cardenas A, Sharif A, Jeffers MS, Fergusson DA. Identifying barriers and enablers to rigorous conduct and reporting of preclinical laboratory studies. PLoS Biol. 2023 Jan 5;21(1).

5. Crupi MJF, Taha Z, Janssen TJA, Petryk J, Boulton S, Alluqmani N, Jirovec A, Kassas O, Khan ST, Vallati S, Lee E, Huang BZ, Huh M, Pikor L, He X, Marius R, Austin B, Duong J, Pelin A, Neault S, Azad T, Breitbach CJ, Stojdl DF, Burgess MF, McComb S, Auer R, Diallo J-S, Ilkow CS, Bell JC. Oncolytic virus driven T-cell-based combination immunotherapy platform for colorectal cancer. Front Immunol. 2022 Nov 3;13:1029269.

6. Taha Z, Arulanandam R, Maznyi G, Godbout E, Carter-Timofte ME, Kurmasheva N, Reinert LS, Chen A, Crupi MJF, Boulton S, Laroche G, Phan A, Rezaei R, Alluqmani N, Jirovec A, Acal A, Brown EEF, Singaravelu R, Petryk J, Idorn M, Potts KG, Todesco H, John JC, Mahoney DJ, Ilkow CS, Giguère P, Alain T, Côté M, Paludan SR, Olagnier D, Azad T, Diallo J-S. Identification of FDA-approved bifonazole as a SARS-CoV-2 blocking agent following a bioreporter drug screen. Molecular Therapy. 2022 May 6:S1525-0016(22)00296-9.

7. Wedge ME, Jennings VA, Pugliese G, Poutou J, Crupi MJF, Jamieson TR, Laight BJ, Boileau M, Khan ST, McKay HE, Pikor L, Pelin A, Rose E, Brown E, Crawford N, Tanese de Souza C, Alkayyal A, Surendran A, Singaravelu R, Roy D, Petryk J, Migneco G, McSweeney B, Cottee ML, Jacobus EJ, Keller B, Chatterjee A, Auer RA, Diallo J-S, Gibbings D, tenOever BR, Melcher A, Bell JC, Ilkow CS. “Virally programmed extracellular vesicles sensitize cancer cells to oncolytic virus and small molecule therapy”. Nature Communications, April 2022.

8. Rangsitratkul C, Lawson C, Bernier-Godon F, Niavarani SR, Boudaud M, Rouleau S, Gladu-Corbin AO, Surendran A, Ekindi-Ndongo N, Koti M, Ilkow CS, Richard PO, Tai LH. Intravesical immunotherapy with a GM-CSF armed oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus improves outcome in bladder cancer. Molecular Therapy Oncolytics. 2022 Feb 1;24:507-521.

9. Boulton S, Poutou J, Martin NT, Azad T, Singaravelu R, Crupi MJF, Jamieson T, He X, Marius R, Petryk J, Tanese de Souza C, Austin B, Khan ST, Pelin A, Rezaei R, Surendran A, Tucker S, Brown EMF, Dave J, Diallo J-S, Auer R, Angel JB, Cameron W, Cailhier JF, Lapointe R, Potts K, Mahoney DJ, Bell JC, Ilkow CS. “Single dose replicating poxvirus vector-based RBD vaccine drives robust humoral and T cell immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection”. Mol Ther. 2022 May 4;30(5):1885-1896.

10. Rezaei R, Surendran A, Singaravelu R, Jamieson TR, Taklifi P, Poutou J, Azad T, Ilkow CS. “Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RBD antibody using a HiBiT-based bioreporter”. Journal of visualized experiments (JoVE) Published: August 12, 2021.

11. Marchini A, Ilkow CS, and Melcher A. "Oncolytic Virus Immunotherapy".  Cancers 13, no. 15: 3672. July 27, 2021

12. Jamieson TR, Poutou J, Marius R, He X, Rezaei R, Azad T, and Ilkow CS. “Detection of SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies using high throughput fluorescent imaging of pseudovirus infection”. Journal of visualized experiments (JoVE) Published: June 5, 2021.

13. Azad T, Rezaei R, Singaravelu R, Jamieson TR, Crupi MJF, Surendran A, Poutou J, Taklifi P, Cameron W, Ilkow CS. “A high-throughput NanoBiT-based serological assay detects SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion”. Nanomaterials (Basel). 2021 Mar 22;11(3):807.

14. Azad T, Singaravelu R, Brown EE, Taha Z, Arulanandam R, Boulton S, Diallo J-S, Ilkow CS, Bell JC. “SARS-CoV-2 S1 NanoBiT: a Nanoluciferase complementation-based biosensor to rapidly probe SARS-CoV-2 receptor recognition”. Biosensors and Bioelectronics 2021 May 15;180:113122.

15. Brown EEF, Rezaei R, Jamieson TR, Dave J, Martin NT, Singaravelu R, Crupi MJF, Boulton S, Tucker S, Duong J, Poutou J, Pelin A, Yasavoli-Sharahi H, Taha Z, Arulanandam R, Surendran A, Ghahremani M, Austin B, Matar C, Diallo J-S, Bell JC, Ilkow CS, Azad T. Characterization of Critical Determinants of ACE2–SARS CoV-2 RBD Interaction. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021; 22(5):2268.

16. Keller BA, Laight BJ, Varette O, Broom A, Wedge MÈ, McSweeney B, Cemeus C, Petryk J, Lo B, Burns B, Nessim C, Ong M, Chica RA, Atkins HL, Diallo JS, Ilkow CS, Bell JC. Personalized oncology and BRAF K601N melanoma: model development, drug discovery, and clinical correlation. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2021 May;147(5):1365-1378.

17. Azad T, Singaravelu R, Taha Z, Jamieson TR, Boulton S, Crupi MJF, Martin NT, Brown EEF, Poutou J, Ghahremani M, Pelin A, Nouri K, Rezaei R, Marshall CB, Enomoto M, Arulanandam R, Alluqmani N, Samson R, Gingras AC, Cameron DW, Greer PA, Ilkow CS, Diallo JS, Bell JC. "Nanoluciferase complementation-based bioreporter reveals the importance of N-linked glycosylation of SARS-CoV-2 S for viral entry". Mol Ther. 2021 Feb 10:S1525-0016(21)00074-5.

Diseases, conditions and populations of interest

Research and clinical approaches