Infecting Just One Tumor with a Virus Could Boost the Systemic Effectiveness of Cancer Immunotherapy

“A Ludwig Cancer Research study suggests that the clinical efficacy of checkpoint blockade, a powerful new strategy to harness the immune response to treat cancers, might be dramatically improved if combined with oncolytic virotherapy, an investigational intervention that employs viruses to destroy tumors.

“Published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the study evaluated a combination therapy in which the Newcastle disease virus (NDV), a bird virus not ordinarily harmful to humans, is injected directly into one of two melanoma tumors implanted in mice, followed by an antibody that essentially releases the brakes on the immune response. The researchers report that the combination induced a potent and systemically effective anti-tumor immune response that destroyed the non-infected tumor as well. Even tumor types that have hitherto proved resistant to checkpoint blockade and other immunotherapeutic strategies were susceptible to this combined therapy.”

Editor’s Note: This story is about research that was performed in mice. For that reason, we cannot assume that similar results would happen for humans. However, viruses like the one explored here are already being used in people. To learn more about immunotherapy—cancer treatments that use the immune system to fight tumors—visit our Melanoma Basics.


Model-Based Rational Design of an Oncolytic Virus with Improved Therapeutic Potential

“Oncolytic viruses are complex biological agents that interact at multiple levels with both tumour and normal tissues. Antiviral pathways induced by interferon are known to have a critical role in determining tumour cell sensitivity and normal cell resistance to infection with oncolytic viruses. Here we pursue a synthetic biology approach to identify methods that enhance antitumour activity of oncolytic viruses through suppression of interferon signalling. On the basis of the mathematical analysis of multiple strategies, we hypothesize that a positive feedback loop, established by virus-mediated expression of a soluble interferon-binding decoy receptor, increases tumour cytotoxicity without compromising normal cells.”


Model-Based Rational Design of an Oncolytic Virus with Improved Therapeutic Potential

“Oncolytic viruses are complex biological agents that interact at multiple levels with both tumour and normal tissues. Antiviral pathways induced by interferon are known to have a critical role in determining tumour cell sensitivity and normal cell resistance to infection with oncolytic viruses. Here we pursue a synthetic biology approach to identify methods that enhance antitumour activity of oncolytic viruses through suppression of interferon signalling. On the basis of the mathematical analysis of multiple strategies, we hypothesize that a positive feedback loop, established by virus-mediated expression of a soluble interferon-binding decoy receptor, increases tumour cytotoxicity without compromising normal cells.”


Model-Based Rational Design of an Oncolytic Virus with Improved Therapeutic Potential

“Oncolytic viruses are complex biological agents that interact at multiple levels with both tumour and normal tissues. Antiviral pathways induced by interferon are known to have a critical role in determining tumour cell sensitivity and normal cell resistance to infection with oncolytic viruses. Here we pursue a synthetic biology approach to identify methods that enhance antitumour activity of oncolytic viruses through suppression of interferon signalling. On the basis of the mathematical analysis of multiple strategies, we hypothesize that a positive feedback loop, established by virus-mediated expression of a soluble interferon-binding decoy receptor, increases tumour cytotoxicity without compromising normal cells.”