Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered a way of transforming stem cells into a cancer-killing machine. Through genetic engineering, the stem cells were able to produce and secrete toxins harmful only to the poisonous brain cancer cells, without touching the healthy cells.
Conventional systematic therapies to treat pediatric-brain tumors (PBT) are ineffective mainly due to poor delivery of available drugs to the pediatric tumors in the brain. Therefore, new therapies are urgently needed for PBT patients. In the ongoing search for therapeutics that are capable of treating PBT, oncolytic herpes simplex virus (oHSV) has shown great potential in preclinical studies. In this proposal, two underlying principles will be employed to develop therapies that will directly influence future of PBT: use of tumor selective and potent variant of oHSV (oHSV-TRAIL) that will be loaded into human healthy donor derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) to selectively track and kill different PBT; and testing the therapeutic efficacy of MSC loaded oHSV-TRAIL in mouse tumor models that recapitulate the clinical scenario of PBT growth. The outcome of this proposal will ultimately lead us to a clinical trial in which MSC loaded oHSV-TRAIL will be systemically injected to target the tumors in the brain. This will have a major impact in saving the lives of many pediatric brain cancer patients.