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Oncolytic Virus Therapy
An oncolytic virus is a virus that preferentially infects and destroys cancer cells. Oncolytic viruses are an attractive, potential approach to cancer therapy because of their ability to seek out cancer cells. These viruses can be used to either directly destroy cancer cells or inject desired materials into a cancer cell. An oncolytic virus can be engineered in the laboratory or can occur naturally. At this time there are no oncolytic viruses approved by the US FDA to treat cancer patients.
There has been recent buzz in the neuroendocrine tumor community about an oncolytic virus to treat neuroendocrine tumors. We welcome this publicity as an opportunity to raise awareness about neuroendocrine tumors. In particular, for increased funding for scientific research to develop effective therapies for patients.
Affecting roughly 100,000 patients in the United States, neuroendocrine cancers are classified as rare cancers and historically have received little government funding. For patients in the United States there is no FDA approved cure, few FDA-approved treatment options exist and there are no uniform national standards of care.
The Caring for Carcinoid Foundation supports all drug development for patients with neuroendocrine tumors and believes research has the potential to have a meaningful impact on the lives of patients. More funding for scientific research is needed to advance better clinical care for neuroendocrine tumor patients. The Caring for Carcinoid Foundation’s Board of Directors and Board of Scientific Advisors provide strategic direction and scientific oversight. All projects funded by the Caring for Carcinoid Foundation go through a rigorous NIH-based peer review process to prioritize projects for funding and ensure the most effective use of our funding dollars.
We are not privy to the details regarding the highly publicized oncolytic virus being developed in Sweden other than those available on Uppsala University’s website.
However, we would like to share details regarding a naturally occurring oncolytic virus, the Seneca Valley Virus, being studied by one of our funded-researchers, Dr. Charles Rudin. The Seneca Valley Virus is a virus that has the interesting property that it selectively infects and destroys cancer cells with neuroendocrine features but not other cells.
Dr. Charles Rudin from the Johns Hopkins University and his team are conducting research to define the targeted group of neuroendocrine cancer patients most likely to respond to treatment with the Seneca Valley Virus. Specifically, Dr. Rudin and his team seek to discover how the Seneca Valley Virus enters and infects neuroendocrine tumor cells. This information will enable the development of biomarkers to focus future clinical trials on the patient population most likely to benefit.
Dr. Rudin previously conducted the first phase 1 clinical trial of the Seneca Valley Virus in neuroendocrine tumors patients and clinical trials of the Seneca Valley Virus are ongoing.
With our funding, Dr. Rudin has developed new biological tools to describe and characterize how the Seneca Valley Virus enters and infects neuroendocrine tumor cells. In particular, he has identified a potential biomarker that might be used to select neuroendocrine tumor patients for future clinical trials. With the remaining funds they will continue their work to define how the virus enters neuroendocrine tumor cells and also work on a strategy to enhance the effectiveness of the virus.