The Oncolytic Virus Fund
Uppsala, 20 January, 2016
We are pleased to announce that the Medical Products Agency (the regulatory body in Sweden) and the Regional Ethics Committee have approved the initiation of a phase I/IIa clinical trial with AdVince for patients with neuroendocrine cancer. The AdVince virus was produced with money obtained through donations to the Oncolytic Virus Fund.
We would like to thank each and every one who has contributed to the fund, and express our deep gratitude to the late Vince Hamilton, to Mona Hamilton and the Victory NET foundation for their generous and continuous support to proceed towards and complete the trial.
A very special thank you goes to Alexander Masters, who brought awareness about the project through his brilliant articles in The Telegraph and The Guardian. Alexander also initiated and organised the iCancer fundraising campaign with great help from Dominic Nutt and Liz Scarff. Thank You!
Magnus Essand, Kjell Öberg & Justyna Leja-Jarblad
Professor Magnus Essand and Justyna Leja at Uppsala University have since 2008 developed and tested a potential new treatment against neuroendocrine tumours. The treatment consists of an oncolytic virus, which has turned out to be remarkably efficient in destroying neuroendocrine tumours in mice.
Thanks to donations from thousands of people, including a large donation of two million Swiss francs from the now deceased entrepreneur Vince Hamilton, the Oncolytic Virus Fund collected enough money for Professor Magnus Essand and his research group to start work with clinical trials – the world’s first clinical trials of a virus treatment specifically engineered to target neuroendocrine tumours. The virus treatment has been named AdVince to recognize Vince Hamilton’s commitment and strong support for this research.
While the project now has sufficient funding to cover clinical trials, further donations are vital to keep the research moving forward. All contributions will be acknowledged in scientific publications and in association with the clinical trial.
We kindly ask for your support.
Professor of Gene Therapy
PhD, Post doc
MD, PhD, Professor in Endocrine Oncology
Ways to Donate
- US tax payers can donate via American Friends of Uppsala University, making donations tax deductible.
- UK tax payers can donate via the Anglo-Swedish Society, adding 25% to the value of their donation with Gift Aid.
If none of the above apply to you, send your donation by bank transfer or make an online donation below.
Account No: 183797-0
Swift-code (BIC): NDEASESS
Mark your payment: Uppsala University, Project number 462 82 2020 (Magnus Essand)
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- The virus treatment has been named AdVince after Vince Hamilton, whose large donation has made clinical trials possible.
- The virus to be used in the clinical trials has been produced and tested.
- The clinical protocol and other documentation is being finalised.
- The formal application to the Swedish Medical Product Agency was handed in during spring 2015.
- The formal approval to start with the clinical trials came in January 2016, and the trials will start during spring 2016.
- The clinical trial will start with dose escalation to ensure that the treatment is safe. Four different dosages will be tested. Three to six patients will be tested for each dosage.
- Vanity virus cures fund gap for medical research (Financial Times March 2016).
- Oncolytic Virus Clinical Trial for Neuroendocrine Tumor Patients Begins at UU (April 2016).
(Updated December 2016.)
What is an oncolytic virus?
Oncolytic viruses are naturally occurring or genetically engineered viruses that infect and reproduce inside tumour cells, finally bursting the cells and releasing large numbers of progeny. These can in turn infect neighbouring tumour cells. Oncolytic viruses are sometimes called cancer-eating viruses.
What is neuroendocrine cancer?
Neuroendocrine cells are dispersed throughout the body. They receive neurotransmitters released by nerve cells and respond by secreting hormones into the blood, thereby bridging the nerve system to the neuroendocrine system. Neuroendocrine tumours arise from neuroendocrine cells. During the last 30 years the number of people diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer has increased fivefold. The cancer form became more well-known to the public when Apple’s Steve Jobs died from neuroendocrine cancer of the pancreas.
What is the purpose of the Oncolytic Virus Fund?
All donations will be used for further research on virus treatments of neuroendocrine tumours. With your help we will carry out a clinical trial with our virus.
Does the treatment work on humans?
Like other virus treatments for cancer that are in development around the world, this virus is predicted to be safe and have few side-effects in humans. To find out if the new treatment is as efficient in humans as it has been in mice it must be tested thoroughly in clinical trials. These will be organized by Professor Kjell Öberg, the current Chairman of the European Neuroendocrine Tumour Society.
How long will the clinical trials take?
Once we have sufficient funding to set up a clinical trial it will take approximately 24 months before the phase I clinical trial can start. This time is needed to produce and test the clinical grade virus batch and to get licenses from authorities and ethical committees. The clinical trial itself can then be completed in 6–12 months. If successful, this will be followed by phase II and phase III clinical trials with more and more patients included. A final cancer medicine is many years away.
For more information about professor Magnus Essand’s research, see the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology.
Uppsala University and the University Hospital is a Centre of Excellence for research into neuroendocrine cancer.
Alexander Masters’ article in The Telegraph was an important inspiration when the Oncolytic Virus Fund was set up.