Revolutionary Cancer-Killing Virus Tested

Scientists have injected the first human patient with a new ‘cancer-killing virus‘ that has been shown to shrink solid tumours in animals. The virus, known as Vaxinia, has been genetically engineered to infect, replicate in and kill cancer cells, while sparing healthy cells. Tests on animals have shown it is able to reduce the size of colon, lung, breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer tumours.

While other immunotherapies such as checkpoint inhibitors have been effective in certain cancers, patients often relapse and eventually stop responding to or develop resistance to this type of treatment, according to the researchers. In contrast, Vaxinia can prime the patient’s immune system and increase the level of a protein called PD-L1 in tumours, making immunotherapy more effective against cancerVaxinia, (full name CF33-hNIS VAXINIA), is a type of ‘oncolytic virus‘ – a virus found in nature that has been genetically modified specifically to fight cancer. It is being developed by Imugene Limited, a company specialising in novel therapies that activate the immune system against cancer.

Our previous research demonstrated that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to respond to and kill cancer, as well as stimulate the immune system to be more responsive to other immunotherapies, including checkpoint inhibitors,‘ said Daneng Li MD, principal investigator and assistant professor of City of Hope‘s Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research. ‘Now is the time to further enhance the power of immunotherapy, and we believe CF33-hNIS has the potential to improve outcomes for our patients in their battle with cancer.’

The Phase 1 clinical trial aims to recruit 100 cancer patients with metastatic or advanced solid tumours across approximately 10 trial sites in the United States and Australia. It is anticipated to run for approximately 24 months. Patients will begin by receiving a low dose of Vaxinia, either as an injection directly into tumours or intravenously. Once the safety of Vaxina has been demonstrated, some participants will also receive an immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab, which improves the immune system’s ability to fight cancer-causing cells.

Interestingly, the same characteristics that eventually make cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy or radiation treatment actually enhance the success of oncolytic viruses, such as CF33-hNIS,’ said Yuman Fong MD, the Sangiacomo Family Chair in Surgical Oncology at City of Hope and the key developer of the genetically modified virus.

Source: https://www.cityofhope.org/
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New Process for Production of Genetically Engineered Immune Cells

When using a patient’s own cells to develop a personalized immunotherapy, scientists often struggle to engineer an adequate dose. To capture more T cells for such autologous cell therapy, City of Hope—one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the U.S.—plans to integrate the Curate CELL PROCESSING SYSTEM into its workflow to manufacture investigational CAR-T cell immunotherapy. This system takes a new approach to T-cell separation.

The Curate technology has been evaluated by the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope as part of a new process for production of genetically engineered immune cells,” says Angelo Cardoso, MD, PhD, director of the laboratory of cellular medicine at City of Hope. “High-cell viability, recovery of critical cell subsets, significant time savings, and potential for integration in a closed-system platform were specifications that were evaluated for the Curate system.”

According to Curate Biosciences, this system captures many of the cells of interest. “We get very good recovery of white blood cells,” says Joan Haab, PhD, senior vice president, manufacturing & supply chain operations at Curate Biosciences. “We typically recover above 90% of the white blood cells in a sample.”

To do that, this system uses microfluidics. Haab compares it to the Pachinko game, which includes many pathways for a ball—in this case, a cellto follow. The microfluidic channels separate the cells by size. As Haab explains it: “This provides multiple opportunities to capture white blood cells.”

Most current methods of manufacturing an autologous immunotherapy collect the cells with chemical gradients and centrifugation. “You’re spinning cells around in chemicals and pelleting them, which is not the way to keep them the happiest,” Haab says. By relying on a gentler and non-chemical approach, Curate hopes to collect more T cells that are more fit for engineering a therapy.

Source: https://www.genengnews.com