Oncolytic viruses: a step into cancer immunotherapy
Jonathan G Pol, Julien Rességuier, Brian D Lichty
McMaster Immunology Research Centre, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Abstract: Oncolytic virotherapy is currently under investigation in phase I–III clinical trials for approval as a new cancer treatment. Oncolytic viruses (OVs) selectively infect, replicate in, and kill tumor cells. For a long time, the therapeutic efficacy was thought to depend on the direct viral oncolysis (virocentric view). The host immune system was considered as a brake that impaired virus delivery and spread. Attention was paid primarily to approaches enhancing virus tumor selectivity and cytotoxicity and/or that limited antiviral responses. Thinking has changed over the past few years with the discovery that OV therapy was also inducing indirect oncolysis mechanisms. Among them, induction of an antitumor immunity following OV injection appeared to be a key factor for an efficient therapeutic activity (immunocentric view). Indeed, tumor-specific immune cells persist post-therapy and can search and destroy any tumor cells that escape the OVs, and thus immune memory may prevent relapse of the disease. Various strategies, which are summarized in this manuscript, have been developed to enhance the efficacy of OV therapy with a focus on its immunotherapeutic aspects. These include genetic engineering and combination with existing cancer treatments. Several are currently being evaluated in human patients and already display promising efficacy.
Keywords: oncolytic virus, cancer immunotherapy, tumor antigen, cancer vaccine, combination strategies
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