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New approach to feline cancer therapy

Final report, Winn grant 09-031
Investigation of myxoma virus as an oncolytic agent in feline cancer cell cultures
Investigator: Amy L. MacNeill
College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois
A current area of research focuses on novel cancer therapeutics that may minimize deleterious effects and reduce failure compared with existing cancer treatments. One approach under investigation is oncolytic virotherapy – the use of viruses that infect and destroy cancer cells but not normal cells. Oncolytic virotherapy may improve the efficacy of chemotherapy or radiation therapy for some types of cancers. There is evidence that a host-restricted poxvirus, myxoma virus (a rabbit-specific virus), can be used as a safe, effective cancer treatment based on studies in mice. To date, there are no published studies that determine whether myxoma virus can infect feline cancer cells. The authors have shown in this study that myxoma virus can induce oncolysis in two primary feline carcinoma cell cultures. Cell death occurred in primary feline cancer cells within 48 hours of inoculation with myxoma virus. The results indicate that further studies using myxoma virus as an oncolytic treatment for feline cancers is warranted. [VT]