Justyna Leja is a cancer researcher who has discovered how crowdfunding can rescue the drug-development process for her cancer-eating virus.
Justyna Leja is a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University in Sweden. During her PhD studies she genetically modified a common cold virus (adenovirus), to kill neuroendocrine cancer cells and she is a co-founder of the first crowdfunding campaign to support drug development. Through the campaign that goes by the names of ”The Oncolytic Virus Fund” or ”iCANCER”, ordinary people are financing early phase human trials of a virus with clear therapeutic potential for cancer patients that otherwise might not come to clinical use.
Justyna earned her MSc at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland in the field of medical biotechnology. She did her PhD studies in the group of Professor Magnus Essand at Uppsala University, Sweden. Her current research primarily aims at developing viruses as anti-cancer agents, with special focus on neuroendocrine tumors and neuroblastoma, a common childhood cancer. She is also involved in the development of cancer therapies using T-cells and vaccines.