EPISODE 1: PsiVac
A Welcome Virus: Cracking the Viral Code for the Battle Against Cancer
Chairman and founder of PsiVac, Prof. Ghassan Alusi, and the chief operating officer, Imad Mardini, discuss how the company’s proprietary oncolytic virus platform offers new hope for cancer patients.
During a time when everyone actively fears viruses (especially THE virus) and their mutations, it is only cancer cells that have cause to worry about oncolytic viruses, and rightly so. These mutated viruses are administered directly into a tumor. Once inside, they crack open the tumor’s cells in a process known as lysing that provokes a strong response from the body’s immune system, which has, until then, ignored the cancerous cells. What’s more, the therapy’s attack doesn’t stop at a single tumor. The replicating and lysing viruses release previously hidden tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) that alert the immune system about cancer cells to attack all over the body. The body’s own immune system then goes on to destroy previously unrecognized tumors far removed from the initial injection point.
The biotech company PsiVac advances this technology even further by creating a treatment platform that transforms the adenovirus, aka the common cold, into an especially powerful oncolytic virus. A precision modification in the virus’s DNA improves its efficiency against cancer cells while making it harmless to other cells, rendering the treatment at once more effective and safer for patients.
“Now that the technologies of other forms of immunotherapy are gaining ground, and as cancer remains a major cause of mortality, we now understand there is a huge need for oncolytic viral therapy,” says Prof. Alusi, whose company has planned to start Phase 1 clinical trials later this year. Unlike other immunotherapies, such as patient-centric CAR T-cell therapy, oncolytic viruses can be made in relatively large quantities once their efficacy and safety have been proved.
Curious to Know More?
In the first episode of the new season of the podcast A View On, host Martina Ribar Hestericová discusses the current state of oncolytic viruses and their promising applications with Prof. Ghassan Alusi and Imad Mardini.