Cancer Gene Therapy

Why we focus on cancer gene therapy

Despite advances in our understanding of the processes involved in the development and progression of cancer, treatment options for many patients are limited and prognosis still remains poor. Surgery followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy have been the standard treatment options available for cancer patients; however, many cancers are resistant to these therapies. At the CRUK Barts Centre, we are developing experimental treatments that can target these resistant cancers. We are particularly focusing on the development of gene therapy strategies to target pancreatic, prostate and ovarian cancers, which have mortality rates that have not significantly improved in the past two decades.

What we do
  • The gene therapy program focuses on the development of engineered viruses that selectively replicate in and kill cancer cells (oncolysis).
  • We use adenovirus and vaccinia virus, which are modified to enhance oncolytic efficacy against tumour cells, while maintaining safety. These viruses are used to deliver genes designed to influence the tumour environment and improve the efficacy of treatment.
  • We are investigating the host immune response to both the virus and the tumour in order to maximise the potential of our viruses to boost anti-tumour immunity.
  • Studies also involve the determination of how genetic alterations in the tumour modulate viral potency and how the viruses interact with current therapies.
  • We are identifying predictive biomarkers for virus activity in tumour cells and exploring how the inflammatory response to viral infection can be modified to augment virus-induced cell death.
Click on the links below to find out which researchers are working on:
Major Funders
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Medical Research Council
  • Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund
  • Pancreatic Cancer UK
  • Prostate Cancer UK
Key Publications

Image credit: Cosmid DNA probe for chromosome 9, human. Credit: Dr Rosemary Ekong, UCLCC BY