The Rendina Family Foundation’s ongoing support of Massachusetts General Hospital has played an important role in advancing the research and development of novel viral vectors for the treatment of brain tumors. Viral vectors are a tool used by molecular biologists to deliver genetic material into cells. Massachusetts General Hospital has made great progress with the development of newer and more efficacious viral vectors. The hospital is beginning the next phase of work, which includes production of clinical-grade vectors, safety testing, FDA approval, and launching a phase I/II clinical trial on location.
The concept behind this work is that a virus can be genetically engineered to multiply selectively in a cancer cell but not in a normal cell. The virus is injected directly into the margins of the tumor at the time of surgical resection. The virus then kills the cancer cell and makes multiple copies of itself, spreading through a tumor and killing it but not harming the normal surrounding tissue.
The trial is being led by Tomoki Todo, MD, PhD, a researcher who formerly worked at the Massachusetts General Hospital laboratory. The lab is pleased to report that the preliminary results are encouraging and have moved forward, producing several next generation viral vectors. These viral vectors target the cancer stem cells of glioblastoma via several synergistic routes. Currently, Massachusetts General Hospital is making a human version of the viral vectors and plans to meet with the FDA early this year.