Cheryl Pickett, MD, PhD, Associate Research Physician, Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, Investigational Drug Branch, NIH NCI
Intratumorally injected oncolytic viruses preferentially infect, replicate, and lyse cancer cells. However, through release of tumor-specific antigens and cytokines, they also induce changes in tumor local immune microenvironment with activation of the adaptive immune system, maturation of antigen-presenting cells, subsequent activation of cytotoxic CD8 T cells, and response in non-injected lesions. These changes in immune effector cells appear to sensitize tumors to checkpoint inhibitors. We will review data on oncolytic viruses in clinical development, with particular attention to systemic responses and the potential for combination with other immunotherapy. In addition, we will review some of the unique delivery and safety issues for oncolytic viral therapy.