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Mol Ther. 2010 Aug;18(8):1430-9. doi: 10.1038/mt.2010.98. Epub 2010 Jun 15.

Potentiating cancer immunotherapy using an oncolytic virus.

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  • 1Centre for Gene Therapeutics, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Oncolytic viruses (OVs) are highly immunogenic and this limits their use in immune-competent hosts. Although immunosuppression may improve viral oncolysis, this gain is likely achieved at the cost of antitumoral immunity. We have developed a strategy wherein the immune response against the OV leads to enhanced therapeutic outcomes. We demonstrate that immunization with an adenoviral (Ad) vaccine before treatment with an oncolytic vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing the same tumor antigen (Ag) leads to significantly enhanced antitumoral immunity. Intratumoral replication of VSV was minimally attenuated in Ad-immunized hosts but extending the interval between treatments reduced the attenuating effect and further increased antitumoral immunity. More importantly, our combination approach shifted the immune response from viral Ags to tumor Ags and further reduced OV replication in normal tissues, leading to enhancements in both efficacy and safety. These studies also highlight the benefits of using a replicating, OV to boost a pre-existing antitumoral immune response as this approach generated larger responses versus tumor Ag in tumor-bearing hosts than could be achieved in tumor-free hosts. This strategy should be applicable to other vector combinations, tumor Ags, and tumor targets.

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