A novel strategy to improve prostate cancer treatment by using a killing virus and drugs

In a nutshell

This project will further investigate the safety, specificity and action of a virus that kills cancer cells in advanced prostate cancer.  Initial results suggest that this virus improves treatment of advanced prostate cancer when applied together with conventional chemotherapy.

Why we funded it

This project proposes a new way to treat advanced metastatic prostate cancer (prostate cancer that has spread to other sites in the body). The scientists aim to exploit the fact that cancer cells grow and divide much faster than normal cells. They have artificially altered a virus so that it cannot cause disease but instead enters dividing cancer cells and kills them.  The scientists hope that using this virus at the same time as conventional chemotherapy will make treatment for advanced prostate cancer more effective.

Progress update

As the project enters its final year, the researchers have established that the delivery of their artificially altered virus in combination with mitoxantrone (a commonly used chemotherapy drug), resulted in a higher level of tumour cell death in two prostate cancer cell models, without affecting normal cells. They further demonstrated that low doses of mitoxantrone may actually promote cancer cell survival; however; if delivered in combination with their developed virus, this effect was attenuated, resulting in high levels of cell death even at these low doses.

The implications of these findings could mean that patients suffering from late stage prostate cancers could be treated with significantly lower doses of chemotherapy drugs if used in combination with their modified virus, thereby treating the cancer whilst also reducing possible side-effects.

Grant information

Institution - Queen Mary University of London
Researcher - Dr Gunnel Hallden
Grant award - £99,996
Duration - 2013-2016
Reference - S12-021