Bolni (Marius) M. Nagalo, Ph.D., has a research interest in translational virotherapy for patients with advanced refractory hepatocellular carcinoma as a major type of malignancy. Dr. Nagalo also aims to address health disparities in cancer therapy and cancer-focused research.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In HCC, strategies Dr. Nagalo is currently pursuing include the development and preclinical evaluation of a novel set of recombinant oncolytic adenoviral vectors with increased potency in the setting of tumor selectivity (CD46 targeting, alpha-fetoprotein promoter sequence-restricted replication).
- Gene therapy hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers. In the context of a growing trend in cancer gene therapy and immunotherapy, Dr. Nagalo is exploring novel curative strategies aimed at inducing allogenic tumor cell rejection using viral vectors (lentiviruses and adeno-associated viruses) for treatment of hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers.
- Liver cancer disparities. A significant number of individuals infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) in sub-Saharan Africa, and among recent immigrants with HBV from Africa in the U.S., will develop a chronic HBV infection. Dr. Nagalo is interested in studying the genetic basis of the early-onset of HCC in HBV-infected sub-Saharan African individuals and in recent immigrants from Africa in the U.S.
Significance to patient care
HCC is a lethal malignancy with rising incidence and limited treatment options currently available for patients with advanced disease. Oncolytic vectors (OVs) represent a promising approach to cancer therapy given their ability to replicate and thereby amplify their effect and capacity for cancer-specific targeting.
Prior attempts at using OVs in cancer therapy have centered on making them tumor-selective. Doing so, however, has led to weakened or attenuated viruses lacking potency. Dr. Nagalo proposes to overcome the limitations with this paradigm of higher tumor versus normal selectivity by using virotherapies capable of disarming key antiviral pathways in tumor cells, which could result in significantly more-potent OVs with a higher probability of clinical efficacy.
- Recipient, Kathryn H. and Roger Penske Career Development Award, Mayo Clinic's Arizona Campus, 2019
- Recipient, Welcome Trust Mobility and Skills Training Award, Cardiff University, 2018
- Recipient, Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award, National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (K01), 2018
- Recipient, Travel Award, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)/Network of Minority Research Investigators (NMRI) Annual Meeting, 2017
- Recipient, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Travel Award, NIDDK/NMRI Annual Conference, 2016
- Recipient, Diversity Supplement Award, National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health, 2016
- Recipient, Faculty Development Grant Award, University of Wisconsin, 2016
- Ph.D., summa cum laude, University of Ouaga, 2012