The main focus of the laboratory of Hepatic Oncology centers on the use of various viral vectors for the treatment of cancer including herpes simplex virus, vaccinia virus, myxoma virus and vesicular stomatitis virus. The majority of the efforts are directed at designing and testing oncolytic viral therapies in the treatment of a variety of malignancies.
The malignancies tested to date include liver, gastrointestinal, head and neck, urologic, breast, and lung cancers. The specific strategies under investigation include targeting oncolytic viruses towards cellular proliferation, cellular hypoxia, and cellular changes brought on by chemotherapeutic and radiation exposure. The laboratory aims not only to find viral vectors that may be useful in direct killing of cancers, but also in transfer of genes that may further enhance cancer killing by immunologic, cytologic or antiangiogenic mechanisms of action. The cellular basis for selection of tumors for viral treatment as well as mechanisms of resistance to viral therapy is also under investigation. Collaborative efforts are also underway to examine novel imaging modalities for finding and tracking viral vector distribution during use.