Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

THERADPOX — Result In Brief

Project ID: 18700
Funded under: FP6-LIFESCIHEALTH
Country: France

Engineering viruses to fight cancer

European partners joined forces to develop viruses for selective targeting and killing of cancer cells.
Engineering viruses to fight cancer
Cancer is one of the main causes of mortality worldwide. Ongoing research is focusing on innovative treatments including virotherapy, which exploits the virus' natural lifecycle to kill cancer cells.

Oncolytic viruses preferentially infect and destruct cancer cells. Their tropism can be modified by engineering the viral surface to selectively bind cancer cells or the viral genome to only replicate within the tumour. Alternatively, viruses can be engineered to express genes that kill cancer cells or trigger an immune response against the tumour.

Although clinical trials have demonstrated the feasibility of virotherapy, they have been met with limited therapeutic efficacy. A synergistic effect is seen when virotherapy is combined with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Improvements in the current technology are, therefore, required for oncolytic viral therapy to show significant cancer cure rates.

The EU-funded project 'Optimised and novel oncolytic adenoviruses and pox viruses in the treatment of cancer: Virotherapy combined with molecular chemotherapy' (Theradpox) addressed the development of pox and adenoviruses to kill colorectal, pancreatic and ovarian cancer cells.

The Theradpox consortium developed pox viruses and adenoviruses with an overall aim to render cancer cells sensitive to chemotherapy. The safety and non-pathogenicity of these viruses was verified in selected cancer cell lines and in tumour-bearing animal models. Additionally, the oncolytic viruses demonstrated enhanced tumour specificity and therapeutic efficacy, with reduced systemic side effects.

The multidisciplinary expertise of the study members generated knowledge that could be translated for safer and more efficacious cancer treatment.

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