Molecular Virology

The engineering and preclinical effectiveness of oncolytic herpes simplex viruses (HSV) retargeted to cancer-specific receptors, as a single therapy or in combination with CPI. The immunological characterization of samples of murine tumors treated with oncolytic viruses.

Research areas:

  1. The molecular basis of HSV’s ability to penetrate the cell.
  2. The innate cellular response to the entry of HSV.
  3. The engineering and preclinical effectiveness of oncolytic herpes simplex viruses (HSV) retargeted to cancer-specific receptors, as a single therapy or in combination with CPI.
  4. The immunological characterization of samples of murine tumors treated with oncolytic viruses.

 

Research project:

 “ONCOLYTIC HERPES VIRUSES RETARGETED TO CANCER- SPECIFIC RECEPTORS” - PROGETTO EUROPEO ERC – 7° PROGRAMMA QUADRO, “IDEAS” SPECIFIC PROGRAMME, EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL, ADVANCED GRANT N. 340060; the principal investigator is Prof. Maria Gabriella Campadelli.

 

Ongoing research objectives:

The redirection of oncolytic HSV (oHSV) towards cancer-specific receptors: the new generation of oHSV weaponized as anti-cancer immunotherapy.

 

The scope of the project is the modification of the current prototype of the HSV-1 virus, redirected against the cancer-specific receptor HER2, to generate new oHSV carriers expressing transgenic, immunomodulatory proteins. These proteins should be able to stimulate the immune system to act against the tumor and synergistically enhance the oncolytic effect of the viral carriers. A group of new-generation, transgenic-expressing oHSV able to stimulate an anti-cancer immune response will be designed, grown, and tested. The viruses will be grown and tested for their ability to replicate as well as their cytotoxicity towards infected cells. Next, the viruses will be tested in vivo, in tumors induced by syngeneic mouse cells with C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice. In these models, the virus’ ability to replicate in the tumor as well as in other organs will be tested. Further, the effects of oHSV on the tumor growth and the immunological profile of the mice sacrificed at the end of the experiment will be assessed by studying: tumor infiltration, spleen, and antibodies in the blood.

 

Principal Investigator

Team

Maria Gabriella Campadelli

Professor emeritus

Massimo Di Tomaso

B cat. - general and technical services area

Cristina Forghieri

C cat. - technical, scientific and data processing area

Elisabetta Romagnoli

C cat. - technical, scientific and data processing area

Andrea Vannini

Senior assistant professor (fixed-term)