About

The overarching goal of research in the Wootton lab is to engineer viruses to treat diseases including monogenetic diseases, infectious diseases, and cancer. Our studies on oncogenic retroviruses of the lung and nasal epithelium have uncovered novel mechanisms of respiratory epithelial cell transformation and have identified unique targets for cancer treatment.  Due to our interest in adeno-associated virus (AAV) and lentivirus gene therapy vectors for treating liver and lung diseases, we have developed compact hybrid viral promoters with enhanced transgene expression in these tissues as well as identified novel AAV capsids from veterinary species and devloped uniquely engineered envelope glycoproteins for enhanced transduction in vivo. In collaboration with Dr. Jim Petrik, we have developed AAV vectors expressing anti-angiogenic proteins for treating ovarian cancer. More recently, we have begun engineering oncolytic Newcastle disease virus (LaSota NDV-F3aa) and Parapox ORF virus to express immunomodulatory genes to enhance their oncolytic properties.  Finally, with funding from CF Canada and the Ontario Lung Association, we have developed recombinant baculoviruses expressing site-specific nucleases (e.g. CRISPR, TALENs) to mediate integration of a functional gene and/or repair mutated genes for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis and Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.