Using viruses to alert the body to the presence of cancer

Viral Therapy: Giving Cancer a Cold

Every 40 minutes in the United States, a new child is diagnosed with cancer. That means during your lunch break, one or two families were devastated. As the chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, I am determined to make a difference for those families.

Children who undergo traditional therapies for cancer often receive aggressive chemotherapy treatments, which can lead to long-term side effects, including growth, cognitive and developmental abnormalities. Nationwide Children’s Hospital is doing state-of-the-art research, both in the laboratory and the clinic, on par with anywhere else in the world. My research involves biologic warfare against cancer, with the use of viral therapies. Researchers manipulate the virus in the lab, infecting and killing cancer cells with the virus. The patient is left with side effects no more severe than brief, flu-like symptoms. Nationwide Children’s will begin clinical trials soon to study the use of these virus therapies in children with cancer.

Only three percent of cancer research funding from the National Institutes of Health is dedicated to childhood cancer research. The need for private donations is great, and Nationwide Children’s is dependent on generous donations from private citizens to continue the important work of viral therapy research.

That to me is sacred money. That’s hard-earned money that folks are giving out of their back pocket. Nationwide Children’s is a good steward of those dollars, spending it only on the most promising science that is going to lead to the most significant advances in treatments for childhood cancer.

Timothy Cripe, MD, PhD
Dr. Timothy P. Cripe is chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Dr. Cripe is also a member of the faculty at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Before coming to Nationwide Children’s, Dr. Cripe was medical co-director in the Office for Clinical and Translational Research and is the founding director of the Comprehensive Musculoskeletal Tumor Program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. At the University of Cincinnati, he was a professor of Pediatrics and director of Pilot and Collaborative Studies in the Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training. His clinical interests include gene and viral therapies for solid tumors in children, including brain tumors, neuroblastoma, and bone and soft tissue sarcomas. His current research focuses on developing and testing new, targeted therapies for pediatric solid tumors and translating those findings into clinical studies. He also investigates the use of viruses that selectively infect and kill cancer cells, studies their utility for killing cancer stem cells, and was among the first in the country to launch clinical trials of attenuated viruses in children. Dr. Cripe is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and completed his MD, PhD in genetics and pediatric residency training at the University of Iowa. He was a clinical fellow in pediatric hematology/oncology at the Children’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and a research fellow at the Children’s Hospital and University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. Following his subspecialty training, he was an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital and Comprehensive Cancer Center in Madison and was the Pediatric Medical Director of the UW/ American Red Cross Hemophilia Treatment Center.

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