The Oncolytic Virus Fund
Virus in the service of humanity
The Oncolytic Virus Fund was started to support research on a new approach to treating neuroendocrine cancer. Over the last 30 years, the number of people diagnosed with such cancers has increased fivefold. Public awareness of this form of cancer spread when the founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, died of pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer.
Since 2008, Uppsala researcher Magnus Essand and his research team at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology have been working on a completely new approach to treating neuroendocrine tumours. The treatment consists of an oncolytic virus, which has turned out to be remarkably effective in destroying neuroendocrine tumours in mice.
Oncolytic viruses occur naturally but can also be produced by genetic modification. They infect and reproduce in cancer cells, which they ultimately burst, releasing large quantities of new viruses. These in turn can infect nearby cancer cells.
- Watch a film in which Magnus Essand talks about his research
- More about Magnus Essand’s research
- About oncolytic virus therapy
Support the world’s first clinical study of a genetically modified virus against neuroendocrine cancer
Like other virus therapies developed around the world, the oncolytic virus is expected to be safe and have few side-effects for human patients. To find out whether the new treatment is as effective in human patients as it is in mice, it needs to be thoroughly tested in clinical trials. The research is expensive and financial support is needed to make the necessary clinical studies possible.
Thanks to donations from thousands of people, including a gift of two million Swiss francs from the late entrepreneur Vince Hamilton, the Oncolytic Virus Fund has collected sufficient funds to allow Professor Essand and his team to start the world’s first clinical trial using an oncolytic virus to treat neuroendocrine tumours. The virus therapy has been named AdVince, in recognition of Vince Hamilton’s commitment and his strong support for this research.
However, the research still needs further support. All financial contributions will be used for research on virus therapies for neuroendocrine tumours.
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, you can send your donation by bank transfer.
Account No: 183797-0
Swift-code (BIC): NDEASESS
Mark your payment: Uppsala University, Project number 462 82 0020 (Magnus Essand)
Latest news – May 2021:
AdVince is currently being evaluated in a clinical phase I study at Uppsala University Hospital. The primary endpoint of the study is to determine the maximum tolerable dose of AdVince that can be safely given without causing severe side effects to patients. A secondary endpoint is to investigate whether AdVince can cause tumors to shrink. Uppsala University is sponsor of the AdVince study and responsible for all legal aspects of the study, ensuring that all permits are in place and that the clinical protocol approved by the Swedish Medical Products Agency is followed.
The sponsor formally owns the data generated in the study and is responsible for ensuring that this data is published in scientific journals so that the information benefits the research community and the general public. Being a sponsor means a great responsibility and Uppsala University will not be able or willing to continue as a sponsor for AdVince after completing the phase I trial, as this is not a primary task for Swedish universities.
Elicera Therapeutics, a company founded by Magnus Essand and colleagues, will instead take over responsibility if and when it is time to move on to a phase II study. Then the primary endpoint will be to evaluate the effect of the AdVince treatment. Elicera is developing new immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer with a focus on oncolytic viruses and CAR-T cells.
Over the years, many gifts and donations have been received for the AdVince project, through the Oncolytic Virus Fund at Uppsala University. The largest contributions have come from Vince Hamilton and the foundation (VictoryNET) he set up to promote research on neuroendocrine tumors, as well as from the crowdfunding campaign (iCancer) that Alexander Masters and others initiated and which led to the project being launched in the first place. In order to be able to compensate the donations received through the Oncolytic Virus Fund, VictoryNET has received 5 percent of Elicera's shares. If these shares generate value in the future, VictoryNET and Alexander Masters will be able to reinvest these funds in new research projects on the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors.
Research progress since the Fund was established in 2012:
March 2018: Report on Phase I/II of the clinical studies So far, five patients are participating in the clinical trial of the AdVince virus. The target is 12 patients, so a further 7 patients are needed. “We are extremely grateful for all the contributions we have received,” says Magnus Essand. “But although we now have sufficient funding to cover the clinical trial, further donations are very important to guarantee that the research can continue.”
Watch a film showing a status report on Phase I/II of the clinical trials
August 2012: The discovery at Uppsala University of ‘cancer-eating viruses’ receives attention in the UK The work of the research team on an oncolytic virus receives media attention, notably in a series of articles by journalist Alexander Masters in The Telegraph. Masters’s articles attracted great attention and he also started a crowdfunding campaign in the UK. A fund was established at Uppsala University to benefit continued research and clinical tests.
June 2013: Donation enables clinical trial of new cancer treatment Uppsala University receives a donation of SEK 14 million from entrepreneur Vince Hamilton for research on the virus therapy for neuroendocrine tumours. This enables planning to begin for the world’s first human study. Watch a film featuring Magnus Essand and Vince Hamilton
January 2016: Green light for clinical trial The Swedish Medical Products Agency and the Regional Ethical Review Board in Uppsala give the green light for a clinical trial of an oncolytic virus. This will be the world’s first clinical study of a genetically modified virus that specifically attacks neuroendocrine tumours. The virus therapy is named AdVince, in recognition of Vince Hamilton’s commitment and his strong support for this research.
“Our first patient has just signed up for the therapy and more will gradually be able to receive treatment. The first 12 patients will take part in a Phase I study in which the dose is gradually increased to see whether there are any side-effects. When we have established a tolerable dose, further patients will be treated in a Phase IIa study, in which the main purpose will be to look at treatment effects,” says Magnus Essand.
The actual treatment will take place at Uppsala University Hospital, under the direction of Dr Kjell Öberg, Professor Emeritus of Oncological Endocrinology at Uppsala University.
Watch a film of Magnus Essand, Justyna Leja-Jarblad and Kjell Öberg.(Updated December 2016.)