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Kate Friesen


DPhil Student

Small extracellular vesicles as a stromal targeting extension of oncolytic virus therapeutics

Research Summary

Oncolytic viruses (OVs) selectively replicate in and kill cancer cells. OVs can be used as a gene delivery vector for selective expression of therapeutics in the tumour microenvironment (TME). One current barrier of OV-mediated therapy in solid tumours is the poor viral spread due to the extracellular matrix produced from stromal cells. To enhance the spread of therapeutics in situ, we are developing a small extracellular vesicle (sEV)-targeting system whereby sEVs produced by virus-infected cells carry biological cargo/therapeutics to surrounding tumour and stromal cells. Specific cargo can induce cell death and encourage viral spread throughout the tumour or activate the immune system.


Kate was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. In 2020, Kate earned her Honours Bachelor of Science degree with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, majoring in Immunology and minoring in Physiology and Biology.

Throughout her time at the University of Toronto, Kate became increasingly interested in immuno-oncology, and in 2018, was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship to undertake a research project investigating how Helicobacter pylori causes cancer at the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. She returned to Melbourne in 2019 to continue the project, with funding from a MITACS Globalink Research Internship Award.

While attending the University of Oxford, Kate rowed in Osiris for the Oxford University Women’s Boat Club, and competed on the Competitive Dance team. She was the Women’s Captain for the Christ Church Boat Club, Social Secretary for the Clarendon Council, and the Women’s Welfare Officer for the Christ Church Graduate Common Room. Kate has participated as a lecturer for several access programmes at Oxford and is a Team Lead for the MSc in Applied Cancer Sciences lab demonstrations.


Clarendon Scholarship (2020)

Canadian Centennial Scholarship Fund (2023)

Department of Oncology, Oxford (2023 - 2024)