Neuroendocrine cancer, a rare type of cancer (that became well known after Steve Jobs was diagnosed with and died from a neuroendocrine cancer of the pancreas), may have a new lease on life, if Swedish researchers of Uppsala University in Sweden find a way of obtaining £1 million (approximately $1.5 million) to support their research. “We have developed a virus that was effective in mice, but it’s been in the freezer for the past two years because the trials in humans are too expensive for an academic center,” said Magnus Essand, MD, PhD, Professor of Neuroendocrine Cancer, Uppsala University, Sweden. Because of early publication of the results, the researchers will not be able to have a patent protection for the virus, thereby thwarting any chance of commercializing and profiting from their research. Instead, they have launched a fundraising campaign online at www.uu.se/en/support/oncolytic/.
According to the website, “The treatment consists of an oncolytic virus, which has turned out to be remarkably efficient in destroying neuroendocrine tumours in mice.” Why donate? “If you donate the equivalent of one million pounds, we will name the world’s first genetically engineered neuroendocrine-specific virus in your honour….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.”
If they get the funding, Professor Kjell Öberg, current Chairman of the European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society, will launch the world’s first human trials with this genetically engineered virus designed to target neuroendocrine tumors. (Uppsala University, Sweden; May 2013)