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Matthew Old, MD

Award Name Pilot Grant

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Novel Oncolytic Virus Therapy in Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Matthew Old, MD, has been awarded a grant from the Pilot and Collaborative Translational and Clinical Studies Program in conjunction with the Richard P. and Marie R. Bremer Medical Research Fund and William H. Davis Endowment for Basic Medical Research at the Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

The grant will be used to fund research on his study, “Novel Oncolytic Virus Therapy in Squamous Cell Carcinoma,” in which he aims to find a better treatment for head and neck cancer patients.

The overall survival rate for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma patients is less than 56 percent. Chemotherapy and radiation are effective treatments that not only target cancer cells, but healthy cells as well.

“Traditional therapies are imperfect,” Old said. “There is a need to find a treatment that selectively targets cancer cells and spares normal tissue.”

Old believes that a novel therapy can be found by examining oncolytic viruses, which are aimed at killing tumor cells. He will use an oncolytic herpes simplex virus (HSV OVs) enhanced by the addition of tetrathiomolybdate (TM).

The TM acts as a copper chelator, an organic chemical that bonds with and removes free metal ions from solutions, and has already been approved by the FDA to help treat Wilson’s disease. By using the TM with an oncolytic virus to render the copper unavailable for use, the growth of the tumor will be inhibited.

The “addition of TM to HSV oncolytic viral therapy may greatly enhance the clinical impact of this therapy,” Old said.

The therapy will first be tested on squamous cell carcinoma cell lines and animal tumor models.

Old is in the preliminary phase of his studies and is working with Theodoros Teknos, MD and Balveen Kaur, PhD. Teknos works in the Otolaryngology department at the OSU Medical Center and has extensive experience with TM, while Kaur works in the department of Neurological Surgery and is testing TM and oncolytic viruses in glioblastomas.

“The willingness to collaborate is remarkable,” Old said.

In the future, the team hopes that their novel treatment will help head and neck cancer patients more effectively than traditional treatments.

By Becky King, Monday, July 26, 2010

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