Project title: Establishing “organoid hospitals” as preclinical models to evaluate precision virotherapies
Project aims: ‘Oncolytic viruses’ are viruses that are engineered to hunt out, infect and kill cancer cells and are considered to have the potential to treat many different cancers, including pancreatic. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as ensuring the virus only infects the cancer cells only, and avoids being killed by the immune system.
Prof Parker and his team have engineered a new oncolytic virus that infects pancreatic cancer very specifically. In addition – as a by-product of infection – the cancer cells are forced to produce anti-cancer medicines which attract immune cells to the tumour and instruct them to recognise and destroy other cancer cells.
This PCRF-funded project will test their virus versions in organoids – miniature 3D tumours that are grown from patients’ own cancer cells that have been removed during surgery. Prof Parker’s team aims to use the results to select the most effective virus to take forward to clinical trials.