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Developing a new therapy for pancreatic cancer using the adenovirus

Recipient: Dr Gunnel Hallden

Host Institution: Barts Cancer Institute (BCI) at Queen Mary, University of London

Title: Developing a new therapy for pancreatic cancer using the adenovirus

Type of award: 2015 Research Innovation Fund

Funding: £74,914

This project aims to develop an exciting new treatment for pancreatic cancer, using a flu virus. On the surface of pancreatic cancer cells there is a protein called beta-6-integrin. This protein is not present on normal cells.

Dr Hallden’s team have specifically modified a type of flu virus called the adenovirus such that it can only bind to cells that have the beta-6-integrin protein, i.e. cancer cells. The virus binds to the cancer cells, eliminates them and replicates before moving onto the next cancer cell. This means the cancer cells can be removed without other healthy cells being affected, therefore avoiding unwanted side effects for patients.

By labelling the virus with a radioactive substance, the researchers will be able to track its location and see how it causes a pancreatic cancer tumour to shrink. They can then work to further design and develop the virus so that the treatment is most effective at destroying the tumour.

They will then be able to take this forward to be tested in a full sized clinical trial. This could lead to new treatment options, potentially with fewer side effects than conventional treatments, to improve outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer.