This has been dubbed the 'New Trojan Horse Strategy for Fighting Cancer" and was developed at our very own, Stanford University. The research scientists involved are: Christopher Contag, Phd, the senior author of the article and associate professor of microbiology and immunology and of pediatrics, Steve Thorne, PhD, a research associate in Contag’s lab and Robert Negrin, MD, a professor of medicine and director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Stanford.
This new innovative treatment involves the combination of two proven anti-tumor therapies. Modified vaccinia virus has been shown to destroy a tumor very quickly, and has therefore been modified to make it very selective for tumor cells and not for normal cells. This virus will be loaded within a type of cell known as cytokine-induced killer cells, or CIK cells that can migrate to tumors in the body. These CIK cells may be an ideal way to deliver the virus to the tumor.
Promisingly the vaccinia virus lies dormant in the CIK cells for more than the length of time that it takes the cells to find the tumor. It has been tested two types of mouse models. One was a mouse model of breast cancer, in which they used mouse CIK cells to deliver the virus. The other model is a kind of hybrid; a mouse without a functioning immune system in which human ovarian tumors are growing. In these mice, the researchers tested human CIK cells.
Although modified vaccinia and the CIK cells alone helped the mice fend off their cancer, the combination therapy showed a dramatic improvement over both of the single therapies.
They began their application process to begin a clinical trial in lymphoma patients and then perhaps women with ovarian cancer in March 2006