The Biological Therapeutics course is a one-week module of the MSc in Experimental and Translational Therapeutics. Offered by the Department of Oncology and the Department for Continuing Education, the course will be led by Professor Len Seymour, Professor of Gene Therapies, and Director of the Section of Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Oncology, and will feature face-to-face lectures and tutorials from some of Oxford's leading clinicians and scientists.
The module can be taken as a stand-alone short course. It includes group work, discussions, guest lectures, and interaction and feedback with tutors and lecturers.
The Biological Therapeutics short course will focus on emerging areas of medicine using nucleic acids as drugs and also using treatments based on stem cells and bioengineered tissues, including the combined technologies reflecting uses of genetically modified stem cells. Starting from well established fields such as bone marrow transplantation for treatment of immune deficiency and cancer, we will assess range of emerging therapeutic approaches building on the use of human adult, cord blood and embryonic stem cells and will discuss the possibilities of nuclear transfer and iPS cells. Current technologies for growing stem cells in culture and organ engineering will also be assessed. This part of the module will culminate in studies using genetically modified (autologous) bone marrow stem cells to treat immune deficiency patients without matched donors, using retroviruses and latterly lentiviruses to achieve long term expression of therapeutic transgenes within the bone marrow.
We will also assess alternative vectors for delivery of transgenes, ranging from integrating viruses (retrovirus), adeno-associated virus and herpes viruses (which are thought to persist as episomes) and viruses suitable only for short term, inflammatory expression (adenovirus, vaccinia). Applications of these agents in various genetic diseases will be assessed in detail, including focus on the recent study at UCL/Moorfields hospital in treatment of congenital blindness. We will focus on the use of viruses for treatment of cancer, including systems aimed at expressing of prodrug-activating enzymes, but with particular attention in the field of oncolytic viruses, designed to replicate within and kill cancer cells selectively. We will consider their potency, their molecular design (including both natural and engineered strategies to regulate their activity within cancer cells), their selectivity and factors that currently limit their success.
The course will cover the following topics:
- Different approaches to gene therapy
- RNA therapeutics
- Antibody based therapeutics
- Stem cell based treatments and immunotherapies
- Cancer biology and microenvironment
- Cancer immunology and vaccines
- Viral vectors for gene therapy
- Clinical trial design for vaccines and gene therapy
What do students say about the course?
'Excellent course! It should be encouraged among young clinicians for them to have a better understanding of the future of medical practice and encourage them to be involved in development of translation of these therapies'
Dr Harry Petropoulos - Junior Doctor, UK