Health Canada recently approved, for the first time in Canada, a clinical project for a Phase I study aimed at treating lymphomas associated with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) through adoptive cellular immunotherapy that is specific to EBV. The tests will be led by Dr. Jean-Sébastien Delisle, Professor at the Faculty of medicine of University of Montreal, and his team at the Centre of Excellence for Cellular Therapy (CETC) at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.Montreal, East Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre (CIUSSS-Est).
In simple terms, by adapting methods initially developed in the US, the Centre of Excellence for Cellular Therapy project is designed to help restore the ability of immune-compromised patients to fight EBV. The virus, which is carried by most people and causes mononucleosis in someone who is otherwise healthy, may also cause life-threatening lymphomas, particularly in a patient with a compromised immune system.
"We're starting with EBV," said Dr. Delisle, "but once we have proof that this cellular product is safe, we'll be able to attack all the viruses that can jeopardize the health of patients, and other targets, such as those expressed by tumours."