Steve Thorne PhD

University of Pittsburgh, PA Assistant Professor, Surgical Oncology

Research Focus: Tumor Specific Replicated Virus and Bacteria

Cancer Type: Breast & Ovarian Cancers

Award: Young Investigator

Dr.Thorne’s research will focus on breast and ovarian cancers, but has applications for the eradication of many tumors. This study addresses the challenge of delivering a therapeutic gene efficiently and selectively to the tumor target. Delivery is the greatest obstacle to the successful implementation of gene therapy and once achieved, has the potential to revolutionize gene therapies of many types. This research study uses oncolytic viruses, based on the vaccinia virus, that have been modified so that they selectively replicate in tumors and not in normal tissue, and thus are able to deliver a variety of genes to tumors. Delivered directly into the bloodstream, they will infect other tissue as well, but because they have been selectively engineered, they clear from non-tumor tissues and rapidly amplify as they spread through the tumor site. In addition, certain immune cell therapies have been used that are attracted to the tumor, increasing the amount of the virus that infiltrates the cancer and reducing impact on other tissues. The approach to be used, which varies the sequence attached into the protein allows the control of stability and thus the function of the protein. The hope is to use this system to control the expression of different genes from oncolytic vaccinia viruses, in order to improve the delivery, safety and efficacy of these and other gene therapy approaches, and move the science more rapidly to clinical application.

Dr. Thorne has served as Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh since 2007. He was previously a Research Associate, Department of Pediatrics, at Stanford University School of Medicine. He served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London and also at the department of microbiology at Surrey University, also in the United Kingdom. He earned his PhD in 1997 at the Imperial College of London and his B. Sc at Oxford University and has published more than 30 papers in prominent international publications.

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