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Latest News from Research and Development

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Carilion Clinic Basic Science Research Lab Acquires a new Gene Pulser Xcell Electroporation System by Bio Rad

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the research lab has just acquired a new Gene Pulser Xcell Electroporation System by Bio Rad. This equipment was purchased with grant funding from the Thomas F. and Kate Jeffress Memorial Trust of Richmond awarded to Dr. Jayasimha Rao, Senior Research Associate for the Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, at Carilion Clinic for his study entitled, “Mutational Analysis of RsmA Binding Sites and Regulatory Targets in Pseudomonas aeruginosa.” This electroporation system is a much needed and appreciated addition to the research laboratory.

A Progressive New Viral Therapy Now Available at Carilion Clinic

Recently, the Gynecological Oncology Clinic opened the GOG 186H clinical trial offering cutting edge cancer treatment for ovarian cancer patients. Ovarian cancer is diagnosed in approximately 22,000 women annually and is responsible for an estimated 14,000 cancer deaths each year. This trial should make history by raising the bar for Carilion Clinic’s cancer treatments that were only available previously at cancer centers located miles from the patient’s home.

The GOG 186H is a phase II trial that offers two arms of therapy. A patient is randomized to either receive standard chemotherapy or standard treatment plus the new virus called Reolysin. This new drug is derived from the human reovirus and has proven to demonstrate the ability to seek out cancer cells, penetrate the cell wall, replicate within the cell and subsequently destroy the cancer. The reovirus is an acronym for Respiratory Enteric Orphan virus that is believed to inhabit the respiratory and bowel systems of humans. By the age of 12, half of all children show evidence of exposure to the virus and by adulthood, most people have been exposed. This virus is found naturally in water supplies and sewage systems. It is also in lakes, rivers and streams. It is important to note that the virus is considered non–pathogenic which means that usually no symptoms occur from exposure to the virus.

Reovirus was found to be capable of reproducing in various cancer cell lines. More specifically, it can penetrate the cancer cells that demonstrate the activated RAS pathway. Tumor cells that show an activated RAS pathway are not capable of producing an anti–viral response that is normally mediated by the host cellular protein called PKR. This protein is responsible for preventing reovirus replication in healthy cells. As the reovirus replicates within the tumor cell and then eventually kills the host tumor cell, the virus particles are released and seek out additional cancer cells. The cycle of infecting the tumor cell, replicating, and cell death is believed to be able to repeat until all cancer cells are destroyed. In addition, this process may also stimulate the immune system to recognize and kill other tumor cells. You can view an excellent video demonstrating the mechanism of action for Reloysin at

Currently, there are a limited number of options for women who present with recurrent ovarian cancer. This trial is showing promise, and the Gynelogical Oncology team is very excited to be able to offer this revolutionary treatment option to patients in our area. Notably, it has taken the hard work and dedication of various departments within Carilion to develop a treatment plan and set guidelines for the safe handling and administration of this exciting new therapy. It truly is a great time to be a part of Carilion Clinic!

Charlene Viers, RN, BSN, OCN, CCRP

Carilion’s Active Clinical Trials’ List

For a list of categories of Carilion’s active clinical trials, please visit our Clinical Trials page. Details of the clinical studies can be found in each clinical area.

Listserv Announcement

Carilion Clinic R&D distributes a list of new and current grant opportunities. This list includes new opportunities from federal agencies, as well as grant announcements from foundations and other organizations. Notices from federal agencies on e–submission, compliance or other subjects are also included in the e–mail.

If you are interested in subscribing to funding opportunities and announcement e–mail list, please e–mail with “subscribe to R&D listserv” in the subject line.