New cancer treatment to be tested 

intestinal tumours, molecular scissors, disease, genetic, immune cells, drug development, Diabetes, Antibiotic, hydrogen generation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, malaria, photosynthesis, kidney failure, Brain tumours, mental health, blood cancer, cancer, dementia, cancer treatment, antibiotic resistance, blood vessel leakage, quantum simulations, atrial fibrillation, batteries, goiter treatment, terahertz radiation, organic materials , Guild of European Research Intensive Universities, gene copies, social anxiety, blue light screens, ‘Our hope is that these findings will make it possible to discover a way to selectively inhibit the TGF-beta signals that stimulate tumour development without knocking out the signals that inhibit tumour development, and that this can eventually be used in the fight against cancer,’ says Eleftheria Vasilaki, postdoctoral researcher at Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at Uppsala University and lead author of the study. TGF-beta regulates cell growth and specialisation, in particular during foetal development. In the context of tumour development, TGF-beta has a complicated role. Initially, it inhibits tumour formation because it inhibits cell division and stimulates cell death. At a late stage of tumour development, however, TGF-beta stimulates proliferation and metastasis of tumour cells and thereby accelerates tumour formation. TGF-beta’s signalling mechanisms and role in tumour development have been studied at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at Uppsala University for the past 30 years. Recent discoveries at the Institute, now published in the current study in Science Signaling, explain part of the mechanism by which TGF-beta switches from suppressing to enhancing tumour development. Uppsala researchers, in collaboration with a Japanese research team, discovered that TGF-beta along with the oncoprotein Ras, which is often activated in tumours, affects members of the p53 family. The p53 protein plays a key role in regulating tumour development and is often altered – mutated – in tumours. TGF-beta and Ras suppress the effect of mutated p53, thereby enhancing the effect of another member of the p53 family, namely delta-Np63, which in turn stimulates tumour development and metastasis.

The Swedish Medical Products Agency and the Regional Ethics Committee have approved the initiation of a clinical trial for a completely new form of neuroendocrine cancer treatment that uses an oncolytic virus. The virus owes its development to donations from thousands of people all over the world.

Since 2007, professor Magnus Essand and researchers Justyna Leja-Jarblad and Kjell Öberg at Uppsala University have been developing a completely new treatment for neuroendocrine tumours. The treatment consists of an oncolytic virus which is remarkably effective at destroying neuroendocrine tumours in mice.

Donations from thousands of people, including a large gift of two million Swiss francs from the late businessman Vince Hamilton, has allowed the Oncolytic Virus Fund to collect enough money to enable Magnus Essand and his research group to start clinical studies. These will be the first clinical studies in the world on a genetically modified virus which specifically attacks neuroendocrine tumours. The virus treatment has been named AdVince in recognition of Vince Hamilton’s commitment to and strong support for this research.

The Swedish Medical Products Agency and the Regional Ethical Review Board in Uppsala recently gave the OK to start treating patients. There are many requirements which must be fulfilled in order to carry out clinical testing on humans. From when the AdVince virus treatment was first produced, it has taken two years to obtain the go-ahead.

‘It is, of course, a very good feeling,’ says Magnus Essand.

‘Our first patient recently signed up for the treatment and more and more will follow. The first 12 patients are part of the Phase I study in which the dose will be successively increased in order to find out if there are any side effects. Once we have established a tolerable dose, further patients will be treated in a so-called Phase IIa study. The main purpose of this will be to examine the effects of the treatment. We will be able to treat a maximum of 35 patients,’ says Magnus Essand.

The treatment will be carried out at the teaching hospital Akademiska sjukhuset and will be led by physician Kjell Öberg, professor emeritus of oncological endocrinology at Uppsala University.

The research team’s work on an oncolytic virus has been reported upon previously in the media. This includes a long report by journalist Alexander Masters in the British daily newspapers The Telegraph and The Guardian. Masters’ articles attracted a lot of attention and he also started a crowd-funding campaign from the UK.