Oncolytic viro-therapy as a cancer treatment

Our support helped postgraduate researchers working with Dr Daniel Horton at the University of Surrey to investigate the feasibility of using viruses to attack cancerous cells as a form of targeted cancer therapy.

Oncolytic viruses can preferentially infect and kills cancer cells. For several decades oncolytic virus therapy has been investigated as a new cancer therapy for humans, resulting in a number of viruses, including reovirus, being approved for the treatment of human cancers.

Oncolytic virus therapy also has great potential for the treatment of companion animal cancers. However, some cancer types are more susceptible to reovirus than others, and finding ways to predict which cancer types are most likely to benefit from oncolytic viral therapy with reovirus are needed. Tumour genetics are thought to have a role in influencing reovirus susceptibility. The aim of this study was to search for any genetic characteristics (i.e., biomarkers) which could potentially help to predict the types of canine cancer most susceptible to reovirus.


What did this research achieve?

During this project the researchers were able to gain some valuable insights into the fascinating and fast moving field of oncolytic virus treatment, and genetics of canine cancer. They also made progress in understanding some of the challenges of developing an oncolytic viral therapy for canines and the potential of immunotherapy (helping the body defend itself against cancer).

“This project was instrumental in stimulating important ongoing collaborations between veterinary and medical oncologists, and will help to inform future work in this area,” says Daniel.


How is this work related to One Medicine?

Understanding the genetic factors which influence susceptibility of different canine cancers to viruses can also help to inform human medicine – this is a One Medicine approach, recognising that cancers have many similarity between species.

The project was a landmark collaboration between veterinary and medical researchers, bringing together the two sides of One Medicine, and leading to future benefit for both animals and humans.


Project start date: 2017 [Project closed]