Oncolytic Viruses and Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: Preclinical Developments to Clinical Trials

PMID: 33207653
Journal: International journal of molecular sciences (volume: 21, issue: 22, Int J Mol Sci 2020 Nov;21(22))
Published: 2020-11-16

Hwang JK, Hong J, Yun CO


Immuno-oncology (IO) has been an active area of oncology research. Following US FDA approval of the first immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI), ipilimumab (human IgG1 k anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibody), in 2011, and of the first oncolytic virus, Imlygic (talimogene laherparepvec), in 2015, there has been renewed interest in IO. In the past decade, ICIs have changed the treatment paradigm for many cancers by enabling better therapeutic control, resuming immune surveillance, suppressing tumor immunosuppression, and restoring antitumor immune function. However, ICI therapies are effective only in a small subset of patients and show limited therapeutic potential due to their inability to demonstrate efficacy in ‚cold‘ or unresponsive tumor microenvironments (TMEs). Relatedly, oncolytic viruses (OVs) have been shown to induce antitumor immune responses, augment the efficacy of existing cancer treatments, and reform unresponsive TME to turn ‚cold‘ tumors ‚hot,‘ increasing their susceptibility to checkpoint blockade immunotherapies. For this reason, OVs serve as ideal complements to ICIs, and multiple preclinical studies and clinical trials are demonstrating their combined therapeutic efficacy. This review will discuss the merits and limitations of OVs and ICIs as monotherapy then progress onto the preclinical rationale and the results of clinical trials of key combination therapies.