This press release is available in French.
Researchers at McGill University and the affiliated Lady Davis Research Institute of the Jewish General Hospital along with colleagues at the University of Ottawa and the Ottawa Health Research Institute (OHRI) report a significant breakthrough in the use of viruses to target and destroy cancer cells, a field known as oncolytic virotherapy. Their results were published in the September early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The research team, led by Dr. John Hiscott of McGill's Faculty of Medicine and the Lady Davis Institute, along with Dr. John C. Bell and colleagues at the University of Ottawa and OHRI, have discovered that a family of compounds called histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDIs) may be the missing link that turns oncolytic viruses into a potent new weapon against cancer. Their research program is supported by the Canadian Oncolytic Virus Consortium, which is funded by the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC) and the Terry Fox Foundation.
"One of the greatest challenges in cancer therapy is to target and kill cancer cells that are resistant to conventional therapy," said Dr. Hiscott. "The strategy that we developed is to use a harmless, non-human virus that specifically enters, replicates and kills cancer cells, but not normal cells." However, Dr. Hiscott explained, many primary cancers have proven resistant to a pure virotherapy approach. "One way to overcome this obstacle is to treat the tumor with other molecules that augment the ability of these viruses to target and kill the cancer cells."
Dr. Nanh Nguyen and Dr. Hesham Abdelbary, senior researchers and lead authors in the Hiscott and Bell labs, focused on HDIs, which inhibit specific enzymes involved in modulating the structure of chromosomes in cancer cells. They tested the combi
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