Dr. Chiocca’s work is focused on developing novel genetic therapies for malignant brain tumors by engineering viruses that can kill tumor cells without affecting normal brain cells. Dr. Chiocca’s lab is combining this research with novel pharmacological and immunotherapeutic approaches for brain cancer.
Currently Dr. Chiocca is enrolling patients in a trial using an oncolytic herpes simplex virus type 1 from which scientists have removed or modified pieces so it does not replicate in normal cells, but only in the tumor cells. Dr. Chiocca’s lab is also studying gene, viral and immunotherapy of brain tumors, how to circumvent the host responses that limit the efficacy of novel engineered viruses that target gliomas, as well as how to stimulate the antitumor immune response.
Recently he identified a potential setback to the use of this treatment. Dr. Chiocca found that natural killer cells (NK cells), a type of white blood cell that targets viruses and sometimes tumors within the body, are attacking the virus-infected cells, making the treatment much less effective. Dr. Chiocca has identified the specific receptors that allow the NK cells to impede the virotherapy and is looking for ways to prevent this so the treatment can work to its full potential and be the most effective.
Dr. Chiocca completed medical school at University of Texas Houston and his residency in Neurological Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Chiocca is recipient of the 2007 ACGT Clinical Translation Award (At the time of the Award: Ohio State University Research Foundation, Columbus, Ohio) and currently serves on ACGT’s Scientific Advisory Council.
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