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Oncolytic virotherapy and chemotherapeutic agents in breast cancer

By Dr Laura Burga

Oncolytic virotherapy is an emerging, promising field in cancer treatment that uses viruses to selectively kill tumours.

Dr Laura Burga, University of Otago

Seneca Valley Virus (SVV) is an oncolytic virus which targets cells that overexpress a protein called Tumour Endothelial Marker 8 (TEM8). Over 60% of human tumours including an aggressive form called triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) have this protein. Moreover, in TNBC, this protein was linked to tumour growth, migration, metastasis and resistance to therapy. In this project we will investigate the ability of SVV to improve the potency of current chemotherapeutic agents to enhance tumour cell death in tissue cultures and in mouse models of breast cancer. The effect of this combination therapy could improve the effectiveness of the drug, reduce the chemotherapeutic agents’ side-effects and ultimately improve the treatment outcome and patient quality of life.

How will it help people affected by cancer?

This study could identify a new strategy for targeted therapy of aggressive forms of breast cancer. A successful combination therapy will have several advantages to patients: on one hand, the oncolytic virus will target cancer stem cells responsible for relapse and metastasis, on the other hand it will lower the amount of chemotherapeutic drugs thus decreasing the cytotoxicity associated with chemotherapy.