Objective: In the last few decades tremendous progress has been made in the treatment of cancer thereby improving the prognosis of many cancer patients. Despite the progress in the treatment of cancer, there are still only limited effective treatment options for various aggressive cancer types such as pancreatic cancer, advanced prostate cancer and glioblastoma. New treatment options are desperately needed. Oncolytic viro-immunotherapy, based on oncolytic viruses constitutes such a novel treatment option. Viro-immunotherapy results in direct tumour cell killing and local inflammation, which in turn leads to activation of the adaptive immune system.
To rapidly develop and implement viro-immunotherapy as a treatment modality for cancer, we collaborate in the Dutch Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy consortium (OVIT) in which the necessary expertise in virology, immunology, immunotherapy and the clinic is bundled. The aim of this consortium is to develop an efficacious and safe viro-immunotherapy for patients with pancreatic-, prostate and brain cancer, using three oncolytic viruses: Newcastle disease virus, reovirus and adenovirus. The efficacy of oncolytic viro-immunotherapy varies between patients, depending on the tumor type and the applied oncolytic virus. The observed heterogeneous anti-tumor responses to oncolytic viruses emphasize the clinical need for better stratification of cancer patients for viro-immunotherapy by selecting the most promising candidate OV in future clinical trials.
The PhD project, focusing on pancreatic tumors and Newcastle disease virus, is part of the StratiVIR program. This program aims to develop and implement assays that contribute to better stratification of individual cancer patients for future clinical virotherapy studies. Within the PhD project, you will manipulate and generate viruses with aid of reverse genetics techniques, evaluate selected viruses for efficacy and safety in in vitro and in vivo models for the afore mentioned tumours. In parallel, you will establish near-patient-disease models for pancreatic cancer, i.e. organoids and/or ex vivo tumor slices, for which you will conduct molecular profiling to identify predictive tumor gene expression signatures for the selection of the best available OV for treatment of individual patients.
The PhD project is funded by Support Casper
, which is a crowdfunding organisation for treatment of patients with pancreatic tumors.