Virotherapy - Engineering viruses to target and kill pancreatic cancers
Pancreatic cancer affects around 500 people a year in Wales and is one of the deadliest cancers, with fewer than 1 in 10 patients surviving for 5 years. Since it is very difficult to detect, pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage – this means there is a great need for new, powerful treatments that are still effective even in advanced tumours.
This Cancer Research Wales funded project is using engineered viruses to target and kill pancreatic cancer cells efficiently and safely. Professor Parker’s team have developed a virus that infects and kills cancer cells, but does not affect healthy cells, by targeting a specific protein only found on cancer cells.
In this project, the team are engineering this virus to produce ‘suicide genes’ once it infects the pancreatic cancer cells, which cause the cancer cells to produce toxic compounds and subsequently die. They are also attempting to engineer the virus to ‘switch off’ a key protein which drives cancer formation.
This project is aiming to develop highly powerful cancer-killing viruses that could treat pancreatic cancer in a safe, effective manner.