CRUK Programme Grant Success for Len Seymour

Len Seymour’s programme, with co-PI Kerry Fisher, has just been successfully reviewed and renewed by Cancer Research UK for another five years. Len’s work over recent years has been developing a tumour-selective virus that can be given intravenously to infect metastatic cancer, and to proliferate and lyse the cells, allowing spread through tumour masses.
A series of ongoing clinical trials has validated the approach, and shown that the virus can express high levels of proteins throughout disseminated tumours. The next phase of the work is to capitalise on this delivery platform by encoding therapeutic biologics, so that they are expressed only following tumour-delivery and replication of the virus. This will enable local production of agents, secreted from tumour cells, to exert an effect on the tumour microenvironment.  Many agents, including antibodies and cytokines, could be encoded and produced in situ. Len commented ‘the idea of expressing biologics only within tumour deposits is very exciting, as it should combine powerful local activities with minimal systemic side effects. Agents such as cytokines or checkpoint inhibitors are high on our list of possible agents, although we plan to start by encoding the sodium iodide symporter, to enable SPECT-based imaging of virus replication in patients.’ Cancer immunotherapy was identified as the ‘Breakthrough of the Year’ by Science magazine in 2013, so this new strategy to achieve tumour-selective expression of the active agents seems very timely and exciting.
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